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Niki Frenchko’s policy motions languish

Time sheets, hiring, other suggestions nixed

WARREN — It’s been a month since a Trumbull County commissioners meeting where a majority of the board voted down several measures, including mandating job descriptions, time clock policies and a standard hiring policy for employees not yet under such a policy.

Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Frank Fuda voted against the items proposed by Commissioner Niki Frenchko during their Sept. 22 meeting but said they would reconsider the measures in the future if written in different language on which they all could agree.

The issues haven’t been raised at any of the meetings since. The commissioners next are scheduled to meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. The three are not meeting this week.

ROBERT’S RULES

Frenchko at several points in the meeting referred to the meeting rules, telling other commissioners when they could or couldn’t hold a discussion and calling “point of order.”

After the clerk read a motion for a temporary pay increase for a county maintenance worker taking on additional duties, Fuda began to speak but stopped when Frenchko asked for a “point of order.”

A website about the rules of order states a “point of order” is called, generally, to declare a procedural misstep in a meeting and it is up to the president of the board to affirm or deny it.

“Point of order, we hold discussion until after a motion has been moved and seconded,” Frenchko said.

“This is important, Ms. Frenchko,” Fuda said.

“Move,” she said.

And they proceeded to discuss the issue, relating to union contract requirements for posting the temporary position in the maintenance department.

When it came time for the commissioners to vote on a motion requiring them as a board to “familiarize” themselves with Robert’s Rules of Order, the clerk read the motion.

The wording for Frenchko’s motion reads: “To request the Board of Trumbull County Commissioners familiarize themselves with the (Robert’s) Rules of Order in order to keep more order during the commissioners’ workshops and regular meetings.”

After the motion was read, all three commissioners voted to remove the item from the table — the motion and three others Frenchko suggested were tabled at a Sept. 9 meeting — and then Fuda began to speak about the topic.

“Point of order. Discussion comes after a move and a second,” she said. “… That’s procedurally incorrect.”

“Never mind, move on,” Fuda said.

Fuda said during the discussion there are various formats of the rules and Frenchko said Cantalamessa, the president of the board, should pick one. Cantalamessa said the motion was her idea and if she wants to present something specific to them, they will take a look at her suggestion.

“I’m not going to do your work for you,” he said.

Frenchko said Cantlamessa as president of the board brought the motion in January at the reorganizational meeting to implement the rules and if they aren’t going to follow them, they “might as well rescind” them.

“It wasn’t my motion; it was all of our motion,” he said. They all voted for it.

“We need to do something to make sure we are following the rules,” she said.

She said the meetings need to stay more “focused” than they have been.

TIME SHEET

Frenchko’s time-sheet motion was: “To implement a county policy where all employees under the jurisdiction of the commissioners are required to use a time clock or account for their time by submitting a weekly time sheet that specifies the number of hours worked daily and details the number of hours worked on specific projects or tasks. This document would need to be signed attesting to the honesty of the hours reported.”

Frenchko supported the measure and Fuda and Cantalamessa voted “no.”

Fuda said he “saw some merit” in the time sheet idea but doesn’t agree with the wording of the motion.

“We can revisit this,” Fuda said.

In previous meetings, Fuda and Cantalamessa said time is tracked for most employees and other employees demonstrate the hours they work by the things they accomplish, as witnessed by them.

Earlier in September during a discussion of the issue, director of human resources Richard Jackson said salaried employees don’t need to keep track of their daily hours because they are paid regardless. Frenchko said she wants to see their hours worked and details about what they are working on because she often is left out of the loop and doesn’t know what people are doing.

Cantalamessa said Frenchko could talk to the employees to find out what they are working on, and if she was in the office she would know who was there when.

JOB DESCRIPTION

The wording for Frenchko’s job description motion reads: “To implement a county policy where all non-union Trumbull County department employees under the jurisdiction of the commissioners’ office have a detailed job description on file with the human resources department by Oct. 9, 2021, with all job descriptions being updated by Jan. 1, 2022.”

Frenchko supported the measure and Fuda and Cantalamessa voted “no.”

In previous meetings, Fuda and Cantalamessa said job descriptions for most employees do exist and are sufficient. Frenchko said there is no description for the special projects coordinator.

HIRING POLICY

The wording for Frenchko’s hiring policy motion reads: “The board of commissioners acknowledges that the county, through its human resources department, will develop a hiring policy, which will include advertising and posting all positions to be fully approved by the board of commissioners by Nov. 17, 2021. Until a full hiring policy is adopted, all non-union positions under the board of commissioners will be advertised for 30 days, with applicants ranked based on relevant experience, knowledge and education. The ranking instrument and grid will be approved by the board of commissioners.”

Frenchko supported the measure and Fuda and Cantalamessa voted “no.”

In previous meetings, Fuda and Cantalamessa said they don’t agree with a blanket hiring policy because some departments need more flexibility with how they handle hiring. A 30-day advertising period for every job can make it take too long to bring on potential employees before they lose interest or find a different job, they said.

FOLLOW UP

After commissioners finished voting on their agenda items, Frenchko said she wanted to make sure the four motions the other two voted down would appear again on their agenda next week.

She did not attend a meeting again after the Sept. 22 meeting until Oct. 20. The items have not resurfaced yet from any of the commissioners publicly.

Frenchko said she wants to know what parts of the wording the two object to and said the three should discuss it in a workshop meeting to land on an idea on which they could all agree.

“I mean there are some good ideas in there, but there are also some things I’m not comfortable with,” Cantalamessa said.

He said he has offered her feedback, and she didn’t take it. Cantalamessa said it would be “redundant and ridiculous” for Frenchko to resubmit the motions continually without adjusting the wording.

“I would like to rework some of those items,” Cantalamessa said. “You put your agenda items on; I’ll put mine on.”

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