Council discusses city staff succession planning

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney city staff succession planning was discussed during Monday evening’s Sidney City Council meeting.

City Manager Mark Cundiff led the discussion. City staff previously provided presentations on the topic at the Feb. 12 and Oct. 8 meetings last year.

Six of the 10 charter and senior director staff positions, Cundiff pointed out, including his position, law director, assistant city manager/public works director, finance officer, fire chief and HR manager; as well as other extended staff members who directly report to him, will be eligible to retire in five years.

The topic has been an ongoing discussion to plan for the imminent vacancies caused by the “silver tsunami,” as Cundiff put it.

Cundiff addressed the following three questions asked at the October meeting:

• Have current employees who are “in the pipeline” been targeted/identified to replace key staff members or is there no one currently here who is appropriate to follow in the retiring employees’ footsteps?

• What specific steps or methods will be taken to pass on institutional knowledge?

• If there are current employees identified as possible replacements, what educational/professional development opportunitiesare available to these employees that will prepare them to step up into this new position? What educational/professional development opportunities does the city need to make available?

Cundiff said department heads were directed to identify and prepare existing personnel to be groomed for promotion. Some have and some have not been identified to replace key staff members, he said.

City staff intends to train, cross-training, conduct software upgrades, have an overlap period of job shadowing and document the department’s processes and procedures, Cundiff said, as a method to pass on their institutional knowledge.

In order to provide educational/professional development opportunities to prepare identified employees, he said the city will budget to help them obtain or maintain professional certifications/licenses, or attend conferences, training programs, or professional organization mentoring programs.

Cundiff said the city will maintain the educational/professional development opportunities they currently offer. City staff also intends to budget for new positions or lost positions after the “Great Recession.”

The possibility of implementing a “retire/rehire” program is an option Cundiff presented to possibly help combat the loss of employees. The ability to keep the knowledge and employees were considered pros, but several cons were also discussed. Cundiff said the city has never had a retire/rehire program in the past. Also, there is often a “double-dipping” stigma associated with such a program. He said if the city implemented a retire/rehire program it would have to be available to all employees, which would prevent age discrimination lawsuits.

After some discussion about a retire/rehire program, Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan said she would like to have more information about it before she could determine whether she would be in favor of it or not. However, she pointed out that the program could be a negative for those waiting to move up, and therefore be a disincentive.

Cundiff agreed to bring more information back to council about a retire/rehire program to continue succession planning a future meeting.

In other business, at the end of the meeting Cundiff said the Shelby County Health Department is sending out letters to non-residential property owners who have not had a back flow inspection completed on their water pipes are in danger of having their water shut off.

He also shared the reconstruction of Russell Road is set to begin in March. Vectren is currently working in the area.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.