By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature has authorized the hiring of a labor management director for the office of Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort to oversee personnel operations and disciplinary procedures.
Ossenfort said having a person in this position will help serve a critical function in the county and ensure a more efficient working government.
"One thing I found in the first six months here is that I am tasked with running a $100 million corporation without anyone focused on human resources," Ossenfort said. "Whether it be proper training for employees or progressive discipline, having that resource is a critical element for any organization."
According to the resolution, the position would provide professional-level work in the maintenance of effective labor-management relations aimed to improve administrative direction, accountability in the work place, and engage in the department restructuring.
Ossenfort said the position would result in savings to county taxpayers because the director of labor management would work to resolve employee issues that previously would end up in litigation.
The Montgomery County Legislature passed a resolution at its June 24 meeting amending the 2014 budget for $29,116, the salary of the director for the remainder of the year. The director's base salary is $50,000 a year.
Board Chairman and District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush said the position is necessary.
"Being a guy working in the labor field, I don't know too many municipalities that do not have a labor relations partner," he said. "We have come a long way since our initial discussions about what our vision was and what needed to happen. Together we are able to put something out there for everyone."
District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz said the position would provide for more efficient government.
"Our charter has the executive as being head of state and head of government," he said. "This is a great position that is going to help with the government side of it and helping for creating a more efficient form of government."
District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek, who previously opposed the appointment, said that after talking to Ossenfort, he understands why the position is needed.
Ossenfort had first approached the legislature about the position in May but the resolution failed to pass the personnel committee.
Bieniek had expressed opposition, stating that accountability should be placed at the department head level.
District 8 Legislator Joseph Isabel had also opposed the appointment, saying it should be discussed when the budget was being drafted.