In the continuing series of articles on local government, I am discussing the important role the numerous boards and commissions play within the community, and the vital contribution the volunteers who serve their community as members of the boards make by providing input and direction impacting all of our futures. In this article, I want to talk about the Civil Service Commission.
The Civil Service Commission is the second of just four commissions whose job responsibilities are specifically detailed in the city charter. The others are the Compensation Commission, the Personnel Board of Appeals, and the Planning Commission.
Article VI, Section 6-4 of the city charter details the creation and duties of the Civil Service Commission. Section 6-4 reads as follows: “The city manager shall be the appointing authority of the Civil Service Commission. The general law applying to civil service shall remain in full force and effect, with the following exceptions: (a) council may, by a regular ordinance passed by the affirmative vote of five members of council, establish a maximum retirement age which shall not be less than sixty-two years of age. (b) Appointments to the position of fire chief or police chief shall be filled by appointment pursuant to this provision of the charter and shall not be governed by general civil service law regarding promotions. Applicants who are not current employees of the city are eligible candidates.”
“(1) All candidates for appointment to the position of fire chief or police chief shall possess the following qualifications: A. Fifteen continuous years of local government service in the fire and emergency field (fire chief) or the law enforcement field (Police chief); B. Five years of management level experience as an operations supervisor; C. Effective July 1, 1999, an Associate Degree in fire science (fire chief) or law enforcement (police chief) or an equivalent curriculum; D. Current certification by a state or national association recognized by the state of Ohio for performance of the chief’s responsibilities.”
“(2) The Civil Service Commission shall, within ninety days of a vacancy in the position of fire chief or police chief, hold a competitive examination of all eligible candidates.”
“(3) The Civil Service Commission shall certify to the appointing authority the names and addresses of the three candidates standing highest on the eligibility list for the position of fire chief and police chief, provided that the commission may certify fewer than three names if fewer than three candidates passed the examination. The appointing authority shall fill the position of fire chief or police chief by appointment of any one of the three persons certified to the appointing authority.”
“(4) Except for the original appointment process, the general civil service law shall apply to the position of fire chief or police chief.”
The Civil Service Commission meets at the request of the commission chair and is responsible for all initial appointments and promotions in the police and fire departments, as well as the resolution of appeals from employees in those departments. Pursuant to the city charter, the city manager appoints the three members to serve six year terms.
The members of the current Civil Service Commission include Karl Bemus, Joyce Goubeaux, and John Schmitt. The group, all residents of Sidney as required by the Charter, includes a retired company president, a retired city clerk, and an attorney and retired Common Pleas Court judge.
The Civil Service Commission typically meets two to three times each year. This year, they have met four times, in large part because of the certification process for new fire and police personnel. We have hired four new police officers this year and one new firefighter (although they have certified three new firefighters, who will begin work in early January 2018.)
Most, but not all of our boards and commissions require that the appointed individuals live inside the corporation. As I have in the past, I would encourage residents who have expertise in specific areas to volunteer to serve, so that when vacancies occur, we will have a ready list of interested candidates from which to choose. A listing of the boards and commissions is on the city’s website. If you have interest in one or more of them, please contact City Clerk Kari Egbert at 937-498-8148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my next article, I’ll talk about the Personnel Board of Appeals. Closely associated with the Civil Service Commission, the Board of Appeals consists of three members, appointed by the City Council to three year terms. This board meets, as needed, to hear appeals by personnel other than the police and fire departments and makes recommendations on the matters before them to the city manager.
The writer is the mayor of Sidney.