By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
The Meridian City Council is asking the Civil Service Commission to look into some recent hirings by the new administration at City Hall.
Ward One Councilman George Thomas, president of the council, confirmed Thursday that the council has sent a letter to the city's Civil Service Commission because of questions that have arisen about some hirings by Mayor Percy Bland, who was sworn in for his first term in July.
"The council is concerned about the temporary hires that have been going on," Thomas said. "We wrote a letter to the Civil Service Commission and that will be given to the chair of the commission, it is my understanding, prior to the next meeting. He will possibly bring it up."
The Civil Service Commission meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. at City Hall. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 7.
"We are concerned about how long can temporary workers remain in their position. Can positions be created without going through the Civil Service. If it's a Civil Service position, how long can they stay in that position without going through the process, the application, the tests. That's mainly our focus," Thomas said.
"There have been a lot of temporary hires."
Thomas said if the job falls under Civil Service's purview, the council wants to make sure that those who are hired have gone through the Civil Service procedure, which involves, among other things, testing and background checks.
According to Civil Service rules, some employees are exempt. Those who do not fall under the authority of Civil Service are: all elected officials; department heads and the chief administrative officer; all members of executive and administrative boards; temporary positions; and the clerk of the City Council. The Civil Service code book defines a temporary appointment as the "appointment of a person who is not a member and not eligible for regular status, to a position which will be in existence for a short period of time only, usually six months or less, in which there is no expectation of continued employment."
Thomas said temporary employees can stay in those positions for 90 days and after that time the mayor can ask for an additional 90 days.
"Our concern is protection of the employees, the right of present employees to apply for positions that are coming vacant, for our Civil Service Commission positions to be advertised and go through the normal procedure of hiring, whatever they are," Thomas said. "We have several temporary hires that have been done since the new administration and new council was elected. We just want to clarify if it's a Civil Service position, is it filled according to the procedures set up by the Civil Service Commission."
Bland said he has not brought in any new jobs at City Hall.
"I haven't created any jobs that weren't already there," he said.
"I have requested the Civil Service Commission to give me 90 more days on one position," Bland said. "Only one is on that 90 day threshold," Bland said.
The job to which he was referring is that of his personal assistant.
Bland said he hired an assistant director of Parks and Recreation, but that was not a new job. It had previously existed but was vacant, so he hired a person who had worked part-time in Parks and Recreation. He said he did interview others before deciding on who to hire as assistant director.
Bland said any temporary hires who may stay on beyond the 90 to 180 days will go through the Civil Service process.