The skeleton crew that is Augusta Human Resources remains in charge of city staffing, benefits, discipline and payroll after city commissioners took no action Tuesday on a contract offer from Automatic Data Processing.
ADP, a human resources outsourcing firm with an Augusta call center that is one of the area’s largest employers, has been working with city administration for months to secure a contract on the HR duties. ADP already handles city health benefits and timekeeping.
With those negotiations in the background, however, the city HR department has dwindled to nine compared to 12 last year, and hasn’t had a permanent director since the retirement last year of Rod Powell.
Nine commissioners disagree on whether to hire ADP and voted 9-0 Tuesday to delay taking action on the contract offer until a later meeting. Commissioner J.R. Hatney was absent.
“I think this commission isn’t ready,” Commissioner Jerry Brigham said. I don’t think there’s enough votes to pass the contract, or to pass a denial of the contract.”
The commission was expected to hear Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan’s recommendation for the number of support staff the city should retain if it contracts with ADP, but Shanahan didn’t have the opportunity to speak.
Commissioner Matt Aitken said he “could have supported” the contract, then mentioned a need to involve city department heads and other parties affected by the decision.
“The phone calls that I’ve gotten in this discussion, they need to be involved in helping us here,” Aitken said.
City Administrator Fred Russell said the inaction means stepping up hiring or taking other measures to fill the city HR void. He was meeting with city staffers Wednesday to decide a path forward, he said.
In other business during the half-hour session, Commissioner Alvin Mason reported from a meeting he had last week with Paine College officials on closing Druid Park Avenue where it passes through the campus.
Closing the road completely is now off the table, with a traffic calming plan in the works instead, Mason said.
The plan now potentially involves a traffic circle or roundabout at Druid Park and Laney Walker Boulevard, using city sales tax dollars, Engineering Director Abie Ladson said.
At the meeting, officials also discussed what should be done in the interim, such as installing speed limit and other signs to slow traffic on Druid Park, Mason said.