The Forsyth County Civil Service Board’s policy handbook will soon read slightly differently after the board unanimously voted to make minor changes to certain language regarding personnel decisions at their regular meeting Thursday morning.
The modifications, which allow an elected official or department head to assign a designee who is authorized to make personnel decisions, including termination decisions, only affects several paragraphs within the handbook.
“There is one provision already that allows elected officials and department heads to further delegate authority to their subordinates,” said the board’s clerk, Charity Clark. “However, especially in the matter of appeals, there’s a section that talks about regular status and [in consideration of] an employee being removed from probationary status or retained to probationary status, there’s authority given to an elected official and department head to allow an employee to then become a Civil Service employee versus probationary, [but] it doesn’t specifically have language about a designee.
“This same consideration goes to the appeals process, because there are specific processes that are followed when an employee appeals [a decision]. This is something that as the county continues to grow, I would probably see some of the larger departments allow their second-in-command, assistant director, things like that, to handle personnel matters.”
The changes would close any loophole an appellant might find to support their appeal, should an elected official, such as the sheriff, have his or her second-in-commend — the sheriff’s Chief Deputy — sign off on a termination, for example.
Though the three-member board ultimately agreed to add “or their designee” to sentences in the handbook following “elected official or department head,” board Chairman Terry Smith questioned whether the changes would open the door to disengagement by the department heads, who Smith said should be involved in the hiring and firing process.
“I don’t want it to be where an elected official says, ‘I want to shirk my responsibility and give it to someone else,’” he said. “I think he or she is falling down on the job if they do that.”
Other board members countered, saying at the end of the day, the responsibility is still on the elected official or department head, and they will ultimately have to answer to the citizens who voted for them or the person who appointed them, should they fail to do their job properly.
Smith, along with Vice Chairman Tim Perry and board member Jerry Bowman, ultimately voted to adopt the changes.