LEWISTON — Councilors were urged Tuesday by city and school officials to end a combined Lewiston human resources department because personnel operations are too different.

“Consolidation for consolidation’s sake itself does not save money,” Superintendent Bill Webster told city councilors Tuesday. “What it can result in is someone being beholden to two masters and not doing any job well enough.”

The School Department and the city have shared human resources responsibility since 2011. Rather than replacing the retiring human resources director, Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau assumed that role, backed up by a 13-year veteran school human resources specialist.

Both departments have very different needs, rules and requirements, and it’s been a difficult job to fill, City Administrator Ed Barrett said.

“One thing that is very apparent is that the school side has some difficulty retaining people and filling positions and recruiting,” Barrett said. “They have three times more personnel than the city has.”

The original human resources specialist retired in January 2014 and her replacement, Carol Burnham, said keeping track of two departments with vastly different needs is not an efficient use of staff time. In a Jan. 23 letter to Webster and Barrett, Burnham recommends going back to separate departments.


“I think that this current situation is not fair to the employees of the city or the employees of the School Department,” Burnham wrote in her letter. “They do not get adequate attention from their HR director because I’m being pulled in too many directions. “

Barrett said the city would not create a personnel director human resources position, but would add two jobs in the Finance Department. One would manage city employee benefits and the other would manage personnel paperwork.

Overall, the move would save Lewiston about $11,941 per year. The schools would get the bulk of the discount, saving $20,140. Municipal costs would increase by $8,199.

Barrett said councilors would make the change as part of their 2016-17 budget discussions this spring.


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