On the same night the City of Verona introduced its first economic development director, its Common Council decided to create another new position, a human resources coordinator.
Both positions have been discussed for several years in Verona, but the previous administration and previous councils took the process slowly, using a consulting firm at one point for economic development help and shutting the HR position out of the budget process entirely last year.
The new economic development director, Dayna Sarver, brings nearly three years of experience in the City of Janesville’s economic development department, focusing specifically on the downtown district, an area of top concern for several alders. Prior to that, she worked at UW-Extension, and she spent 11 years as a homemaker before returning to college to get a master’s degree in urban, community and rural planning. She has been a Verona resident for 15 years.
Despite a unanimous vote in favor of the HR position Monday, the council had a lengthy debate about it, with at least two alders concerned the position shouldn’t be full-time for different reasons. The position will be posted at $60,416-$75,060.
But Personnel committee chair Ald. Elizabeth Doyle (Dist. 1) was steadfast in defending the position and hiring for it immediately. She said the position should have been in place when the 2017 budget added 11 positions at once and said there will be plenty for the coordinator to do.
In addition to “day-to-day” duties of recruiting, managing employee benefits, employee engagement, employee relations and job changes for “hundreds of employees,” including frequent temporary workers, Doyle said the coordinator could also update city policies, setting hiring guidelines and training practices and keeping the city’s compensation plan up to date.
Ald. Evan Touchett (D-4) said while he’s “100 percent behind” having an HR employee, he did not like “short-circuiting the budget process” and creating a hole in the future budget by using a surplus from the late economic development hire this year to help fund it. Mayor Luke Diaz agreed the mechanism used is “kind of unprecedented and kind of a big deal” but said it should be done, anyway.
“We are going to be putting restrictions on ourselves for the next budget process. Point absolutely taken,” Diaz said. “But I just feel we’re at a point where we’re basically really, really, really late.”
Doyle and Diaz both suggested the position will “decrease liability” and save other department heads time by keeping them from dealing with job functions outside of their expertise.
Doyle noted the position will replace an approved half-time administrative position that was not filled and did not require a budget amendment because the surplus funds are undesignated. Applications for the position will be accepted until July 2.