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November 19, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, genesee county, civil service, notify.

There are vacancies in the three major city departments of police, fire, and public works, plus several unfilled openings throughout the Genesee County municipality.

While county officials have waived Civil Service exam fees, expanded residential limits, and worked with certain occupations to establish more flexible workplace options, there are yet other issues at play in having employee gaps, city officials say.

rachael_in_chambers.jpgIt’s not just a lack of qualified candidates that keeps these jobs unfilled, but also about how Civil Service works, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

“When you hire, there’s a rule of three: you can only look at the top three in the bracket,” she said during an interview this week. “The New York Conference of Mayors supports expanding it.”

If that limit of three could be expanded to five, that would obviously widen the pool of eligible candidates, she said. Police Chief Shawn Heubusch agreed. He would also like to see additional revisions to how Civil Service testing works.

The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police is working with the state Sheriff’s Association to bring about a change in the Civil Service rules “that make hiring minority and underrepresented persons difficult,” Heubusch said.

“Our organizations, jointly, will be requesting that Civil Service be reformed to allow for a Pass/Fail test, for the State to deliver testing more frequently and to see faster turn-around times in terms of scoring for them,” Heubusch said. “Change to the police officer physical agility testing requirements to be job-based as opposed to the antiquated standards that exist. We would also like to see more uniformity across the state in terms of how the rules are applied.”

For example, in one part of the state, Civil Service commissions will deliver the test on an annual basis, while in other parts, it is given every two or even four years, he said.

chief_heubusch_3.jpeg“We feel that these changes will allow departments to hire a more diverse workforce that is reflective of our communities and speed up the time from which a person takes a test to the time they are hired — sometimes more than two years currently,” he said.

Another delay in filling positions in the police and fire departments, she said, is the training time required in academies after a good candidate is hired. 

“It can take six to 12 months,” she said.

And that’s after an extended period due to Civil Service protocols.

“The law really does hinder our ability to hire qualified candidates,” she said.

A Civil Service reform bill (below) has been approved by the Senate and Assembly, and has been forwarded on to the governor’s office for final approval, she said.

Reform the Civil Service Law

Municipalities are always looking for innovative ways to effectively manage their workforce. Unfortunately, in many instances, they are restricted by arcane Civil Service rules. The Civil Service Law should be amended to grant local officials an appropriate level of flexibility in hiring and workforce management decisions. Specifically, NYCOM supports the following reforms:

  • Expand the number of eligible employees for appointment to a Rule of 5;
  • Authorize procedures whereby a provisionally hired employee can transition to a permanent appointment if an exam is not offered within a certain period of time;
  • Classify all part-time positions as non-competitive by operation of law instead of by local rule;
  • Require continuous recruitment whenever possible; and
  • Allow out-of-title work in a declared state of emergency.

Reforms to the civil service appointment process would be especially helpful in the hiring of police and fire chiefs, water and wastewater operators and other highly technical positions of employment where there is a limited supply of qualified candidates.

 

May 11, 2009 - 9:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire chief, civil service.

Batavia's interim Fire Chief Thomas Dillon will serve his last day with the department on Friday.

Dillon is resigning after the New York Civil Service Commission denied a waiver that would have allowed him to continue drawing retirement benefits while receiving a full-time salary from the city.

Dillon retired after 29 years with the Rochester fire department and under civil service rules could not collect more than $30,000 per year as Batavia's chief without a waiver. The job pays $80,000 per year.

Details on the reason for the denial are not immediately available, but Dillon said he believed it had something to do with the availability of local candidates to fill the role.  Civil service rules only allow a full-time position to be filled by a retired public employee if there are not other qualified candidates for the job.

Dillon, who was appointed to the job in September, said he's disappointed to be leaving Batavia.

"This has been a great fit for me," Dillon said. "I can't say enough about how great the people here have been. I have nothing but good things to say about the people on both the fire and the medic side. It's been a great experience for me."

He also praised the city administration and repeated how disappointed he is that he's unable to stay in Batavia.

Dillon and his wife will return to Geneseo, where they ow na home, he said.

UPDATE: An alert reader notes that city officials must have known for a few days at least that Chief Dillon would be leaving. There is a help wanted ad in the Democrat and Chronicle. The job opening was not advertised with the Daily News nor The Batavian (which is free). Nor is the job placed with Craig's List, which is also free.

UPDATE II: Before tonight's council meeting, I spoke with Jason Molino.  "We've been advertising the position for the last week and we have received resumes," Molino said. He also said, "We are considering internal candidates, as well."

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