Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Bethlehem City Council Advances Meaningless Hiring Freeze
Earlier that night, Director of Community and Economic Development Director Alicia Karner wanted staffing in her department increased by one or two people to handle the workload that will come with the CRIZ. David Brong found a way to make it budget neutral. But Callahan and Recchiuti voted No because the City is in dire financial straights. Eric Evan countered the best way to change that is by increasing revenue with the CRIZ, but their minds were made up.
Amazingly, right after refusing to listen to some pretty powerful arguments for CRIZ staffing, which the City agreed to provide in its application to the state, Callahan claimed City Council would listen to administration pitches for hiring staff.
"I don't think we're going to be hard of hearing," he said, right after listening to the administration point out that these jobs are needed for what is expected to be $538 million in development.
He sounds deaf to me.
As for the hiring freeze, about half the City's workforce is exempt. It doesn't cover fire, police or EMS. They will also make sure it doesn't affect seasonal employees. When all the exemptions are considered, it might affect three positions for two months, a point noted by nonvoting member Adam Waldron.
"It's more like a chill," he observed.
So then what's the point?
Aside from the question whether Council has the right to stick its nose into day-to-day administrative affairs, Business Administrator David Brong told them it simply won't work. Other things will, he noted, like consolidations within departments, the increased use of technology and elimination of non-core functions.
"A Council-imposed hiring freeze takes the reins of leadership away from those who run the City," Brong argued. "Abandon this hiring freeze and let us do our jobs."
Brong called it an "irritant" and "token effort."
"How much mileage are we really going to get out of this?" he asked.
That depends on whether you are interested in government or politics.