BY LAUREN HENRY
The Civil Service Board on Thursday night passed changes to the Civil Service handbook on first reading.
The board had met for a three-and-a-half hour workshop on Sept. 6 to discuss proposed changes to the handbook to align it with the new Town of Greeneville charter and take into consideration the new position of Greeneville City Adminstrator.
Most of the changes in the Civil Service handbook were related to the city administrator's new role, and would be designed to clarify that role with regard to those in the town's classified services.
The classified services, whose employees are covered by the Greeneville Civil Service system, are the Greeneville Police Department, the Greeneville Fire Department, and the Recorder's Office.
While some of the proposed changes were minor revisions to language, other points addressed broader issues, such as testing, promotions, hiring, leave without pay, and residency requirements.
ONE ADDITIONAL REVISION
Fire Chief Mark Foulks was present for last night's Civil Service Board meeting where the revisions were to be considered for acceptance on first reading. Approval on two readings is required for passage.
Chief Foulks requested an additional revision: that the scoresheets' points system for promotions within classified service positions be modified in the handbook to allow unlimited points to be awarded for work-related education.
The scoresheet currently awards 20 points for work-related training and education.
"I don't like having a maximum on it," Foulks said.
"You can top off that category just on fire certifications without a degree. If you get a higher education degree, you can capitilize on that degree ... as long as it is not capped out in the handbook.
"I'm asking for the ability not to have it capped off," Foulks said.
"He is saying he doesn't want someone to max out work-related training," Civil Service Board Chairman Ed Kershaw clarified.
Kershaw added that, under the existing wording, those who had earned the maximum number of points for work-related training would be less likely to obtain more certification or education.
POLICE CHIEF DISAGREES
Police Chief Terry Cannon disagreed with the proposed change.
He said that allowing unlimited points for continuing education would not be fair to the officers.
"I don't want it to give the apperance that whoever I like best goes to those schools," he said.
Within the Police Department, Chief Cannon often decides who attends additional training, and the training opportunities are often on a funds-available and time-available basis.
Also, SWAT and Bomb Squad members are required to attend training to keep up their certification, he said, and that requirement can mean less opportunity to receive other training.
Cannon expressed concerns that officers might resent not receiving an opportunity for more certification or training that could at times correlate to higher chances of promotion.
Chief Foulks argued that changing the handbook wording would not require Chief Cannon to change the current scoring method but would simply allow the opportunity to do so.
"You can keep the current scoresheet," he told Cannon. "It is capped at 20, but if you ever made the decision in the future to go above 20, you could."
Cannon said he did not want that responsibility. "I would not want me to set the importance," he said.
Chief Foulks originally proposed that the changes apply for upcoming interviews, but the board wanted more time to consider and allow applicants to be aware of any changes rather than changing the scoring method midway through an application processs.
By changing the scoring to unlimited in the category of continuing education, "you are washing away the importance of the test; you are washing away the importance of the interview," Kershaw said.
"It scares me not having a limit in this category," he continued.
His fear, he said, was that, if there was no cap on points for continuing education and more points could be obtained in the future, then an applicant could slack in other categories and rely almost solely on his/her points in the one category.
"That's dangerous," he said.
KEPT CURRENT LANGUAGE
The board considered raising available points to possibly 30 for continuing education while keeping the total available points capped at 100 points for all categories. However, the board members did not reach a consensus.
Board member Tim Teague was opposed to the scoring ever exceeding the total of 100, except where military service could bring the total to 105. According to the chiefs, no one has ever reached maximum scoring in all categories.
Ultimately, the board decided to retain the handbook wording as is to keep the current maximum of 20 points that could be awarded for work-related education.
The board tabled further discussion on possible changes to the cap until Chief Cannon and Chief Foulks can discuss it with their respective departments.
The board members plan to return to the discussion when they take up the proposed handbook changes on second reading.
COMPOSITE SCORE LIST
The Civil Service Board passed composite score lists for recent testing for the positions of sergeant and lieutenant within the Greeneville Fire Department.
Eighteen total applicants took the test given on Aug. 30 for the two positions.
"I thought the testing went very well," Foulks said.
He had the composite scores compiled the day of the testing and ready last night for board approval. The next step for the applicants is an interview.
The board set tentative dates for those interviews for Oct. 9 and 16. The interviews will include the 16 sergeant and lieutenant applicants with the Fire Department, and three applicants for the position of cashier clerk in the Recorder's Office.
The board approved test scores for the three applicants for the cashier clerk position who passed the required exam on Sept. 8.
Carol Susong, town recorder, said that six applicants took the examination, but only three passed.
The Civil Service Board scheduled the board's monthly meeting to follow the interviews on Oct. 16.
The interviews will begin at 6 p.m., and the meeting will start at approximately 7:30 p.m.
The board will certify and approve the interviews at that time.
In new business, Chief Cannon requested testing for patrol officers.
There are no open positions currently, but the list, which lasts for two years with the option of being renewed once, has already been renewed two years ago. The police force needs to compile a new list, he said.
The testing will follow a required two-week advertisement period and a mont-long application period.
The board scheduled the public advertisement of the test for Sept. 27 through 29, after which applications would be available Oct. 1.
Applicants would have the entire month of October to submit applications. The test tentatively would be given Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.
The board voted to approve a pay raise for the board's secretary from $10 an hour to $12 an hour.
"Its difficult to get people to do this," Kershaw said. "It's time-consuming. You have to do it after hours, plus you have to commit family time to do this, and we are starting to demand more and more of our secretaries."
Karen Kilday currently holds the position. The pay rasie will be effective beginning with the Oct. 16 meeting.