Vacation time, better pay among options to recruit county managers

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Oneida County needs to rethink when certain new hires can start taking vacation and how much in hopes of making the positions more attractive to job candidates, says the personnel commissioner.

Commissioner John P. Talerico wants to allow new managers, department heads and attorneys to start accumulating two weeks of vacation during their first year of employment. Employees on what are known as the M, H and P scales currently receive no vacation during their first year and five days after the first year — this is standard in county government.

According to the personnel official, individuals filling higher level management positions often are leaving an employer after several years and have built up a vacation bank.

“Our present policy would cause them to experience a reduction in accrued benefit time when accepting a position with Oneida County,” Talerico explained. “This is often the deciding factor when rejecting an employment offer.”

He said the county’s vacation policy was specifically cited by a candidate who declined a job offer as a director in the Mental Health Department.

“It has just been coming up more and more so we want to address it,” the commissioner said.

Talerico is proposing new hires on the three scales start accruing vacation at the rate of 5.8 hours a month from day one and be allowed to start using it after six months. They would continue to accumulate vacation hours at this rate until year five of employment and then follow the existing vacation schedule.

“I believe this change will remove a major impediment to our recruitment efforts for these positions and will provide a useful tool to recruit the most qualified individuals for higher level positions within the structure of Oneida County government,” he said.

The change could be approved at Wednesday’s Board of Legislators meeting. The affected positions are not included in any bargaining unit so there is no contractual issue.

The proposal has the support of County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

“It is a recruiting issue. I fully support it,” he said. “In terms of recruitment, we’ve just got to take a step up.”

Talerico said M, H and P scale employees recently hired under the the existing vacation policy and currently accrue at less than the two-week rate would begin accumulating at the new rate going forward but would not be eligible for retroactive adjustment.

Vacation time isn’t the only issue on Talerico’s “to do” list when it comes to attracting candidates for management positions.

He’s proposing that the starting pay for two Mental Health director posts be raised by about $10,000 to better reflect the education and experience requirements. Both of the Civil Service positions are vacant.

Mental Health Commissioner Robin E. O’Brien says a starting pay range of $60,628 to $63,731 would be closer to what “like” counties in New York pay for comparable job titles and duties.

The Board of Legislators meets Wednesday at
2 p.m. at the County Office Building, Utica.

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