Augusta considers outsourcing human resources services

A company that opened a $40 million Solution Center in Augusta three years ago is offering to solve some of city government’s budget woes, but the solution comes at a price of city jobs.

 

Tuesday, commissioners will be given a presentation from Automatic Data Processing on what the human resources, benefits and payroll outsourcing firm can do for the city, and City Administrator Fred Russell said he’s prepared to recommend the commission vote on contracting with ADP for the services.

“I’m ready to recommend that we try that,” said Russell, who has already met with ADP officials on the deal. Augusta already outsourced employee benefits management to ADP last year.

The move will likely spell the end of most, but not all, city human resources jobs, Russell said. The department requested about $1 million from the general fund for salaries and benefits this year. In a year when Russell has asked the commission to trim more than $5 million to balance the city budget and eliminate at least 34 jobs, the human resources department is budgeted more than $1 million for its employee salaries.

The department has dwindled in size in the past few months but had 11 employees in December, according to a roster of all personnel obtained from the department. It has been without a permanent director since the August retirement of Rod Powell, although Powell remains on the payroll as a consultant.

One of the commission’s more conservative members, Joe Jackson said he’d definitely vote to outsource the city’s remaining human resources functions, as well as others.

“I would support ADP taking over their role with HR,” Jackson said.

Outsourcing human resources isn’t the only major budget item on Tuesday’s commission agenda. The commission will revisit an item from a Wednesday called meeting that sought to restore approximately $2.5 million in budget cuts.

The cuts will end non-senior programs at four community centers, close three swimming pools, reduce downtown landscaping and eliminate at least 34 filled positions across 13 departments, according to a Wednesday presentation.

A vote to restore the funds -- by dipping into the city’s reserves, which Russell said are presently $29 million, and using an anticipated $1 million in revenue that Tax Assessor Alvino Ross said will be generated when his office implements new technologies -- failed when it only received five supporting commission votes last week.

Among those commissioners absent from the called meeting, Matt Aitken said he would not vote to restore the funds. “I just can’t see putting a Band-Aid on it,” Aitken said.

Jackson, who voted against the measure last week, said he hadn’t changed his mind.

“I’m not waging this government on speculation,” Jackson said of the anticipated revenue from the tax office. “That dog ain’t going to hunt, and I hope I’ve got support to keep it where it’s at.”

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Augusta Commission

WHEN: Called legal meeting starts at 4:30 p.m., Regular meeting begins at 5 p.m.

WHERE: 8th Floor, 530 Greene St.

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