Spotswood council tables resolution for human resource officer position due to unclear definition of roles

SPOTSWOOD–The Borough Council tabled a resolution authorizing Mayor Edward Seely to appoint Administrative Assistant Cate Leedy as the municipality’s first human resources officer due to an unclear definition of the position’s roles.

The borough, based upon receipt of a directive dated Oct. 15, 2019, from the New Jersey Civil Service Commission to all municipalities, has deemed it necessary to establish the position of a human resources officer, specifically to address employees who are victims of domestic violence, according to information provided by the council.

The position would be established for the calendar year. The position will report directly to the mayor and will perform duties as instructed by the mayor, according to the council.

The council tabled the resolution, which would have appointed Leedy, who is the administrative assistant to the mayor and business administrator, to the position of human resources officer for the calendar year with a stipend in the amount of $8,000 during the May 4 council meeting.

Council President Larry Kraemer said a human resource director who works for the federal government informed him that there are no requirements for the human resource position, as long as the person doesn’t interact with payroll.

“[Leedy] can learn things online if she chooses to or if the borough chooses to ask her to, but there are no requirements for her to assume this role,” Kraemer said. “It’s a human resources representative [position], her main job is to rectify any grievances or set them along in motion if there is a grievance between one employee and another employee.”

Borough Attorney Lawerance Sachs said this is an additional position and the resolution is not shifting the business administrator’s human resource duties over to this new position.

“We were told that this position was going to be human resources … and that the raise [Leedy] was getting was so that she would perform the human resources function and the stipend was for the function,” Councilman Ted Ricci said. “The $12,000 raise was to bring her salary up for her administrative aid. It had nothing to do with human resources.”

Leedy will receive a salary increase of $12,000 for the administrative assistant position and the annual salary currently exceeds the borough’s present salary ordinance and it is the council’s intent to amend the ordinance prior to year-end, according to the council.

“I have a problem with that, so we are appointing someone to be the human resources representative who has no background as far as I know … no background [and] no training in human resources matters,” resident Dulce Branco-Rivera said. “So basically, we are going to go back to the same problem we had in the beginning, having someone who doesn’t understand human resource rules and regulations to handle human resources.”

Branco-Rivera said she has nothing against Leedy, but she does think that appointing her to the human resources officer position is not responsible and the $12,000 salary increase is outrageous.

“[Leedy] was given a job and she was given a salary and then you give increases to those salaries. A $12,000 increase is just outrageous and then you wonder why taxes keep going up because you keep throwing these high amounts of money at whatever person you decide who is the one on the top pedestal,” Branco-Rivera said.

Seely said the position is a non-paying job and it can be appointed to anybody.

“[Leedy] is going to be a human resources person but she is working with the assistance of both attorneys. … Keeping in mind the average low-end salary for this job is around $57,000,” Seely said. “Now basically that’s what it all comes down to is if the employees are comfortable and if she does a good job. I don’t know what the real issue is here.”

Ricci asked that the resolution be tabled until more specific language regarding what duties the new position entails is made clear in the resolution, to which Sachs agreed.

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