MEDIA — Changes keep a'coming to Delaware County as county council hired a human resources specialist to revamp hiring practices and as it prepares to host an ethics reform hearing next month.
As a result, job openings are being posted on the county website for the first time ever and can be viewed at https://www.delcopa.gov/departments/jobopenings.html.
"We're building the foundations, the building blocks of an effective, strong county government," county Councilman Kevin Madden said. "Our most important asset is our people. This government really runs because of the quality of folks that we have who serve the community every day."
In conjunction with that, Madden added, "When we think about all the things that we talk about, everything that we really want to accomplish over the coming years, it all starts with having the right people in place. Just to rewind the clock: Getting a job in the county really meant you had to know a guy ... That reality had to change. That was something we felt we needed we had to address and we did."
In addition to posting jobs on the website, county council unanimously approved the hiring of Stacy Heisey-Terrell for human resources services at a rate of $75 an hour to help establish a protocol for best practices hiring for open county positions.
Madden said she would assist county leaders in instilling "a process to ensure that we are actively soliciting interest from folks that we know or we don't know who may have a background that really aligns with a particular position. That is really fundamental."
County Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer agreed.
"We historically have hired very inwardly and this board would like to make it an outward process and put jobs out to the wider community," she said, adding, "We are not set up to do that. We don't have a robust outward recruiting process in the human resources and personnel department."
And that's where Heisey-Terrell enters, having started her work this week.
Schaefer said Heisey-Terrell plans to work with the county personnel department to establish a robust hiring practice.
"We'll be posting online, going out to the services and really casting a wide net so that we get the best talent in Delaware County," she sai.d
Some jobs had already been posted on the website, including the directors for the County Office of Services for the Aging and the Office of Judicial Support; deputy sheriff; county and courthouse park police patrolmen; RNs, LPNs and CNAs at the Fair Acres Geriatric Center and various clerical and maintenance positions.
"We are now posting jobs," county Councilwoman Christine Reuther said. "There's a couple big jobs already posted ... These are specialized positions and we're casting a wide net. We're hoping that this contractor helps us do that but there's lots of other positions and so people should keep an eye out."
Council Vice Chairman Monica Taylor said the specialist will also evaluate vendors to compile a full list of them, how long their contracts are, when the contracts started and if there was a request for proposal associated with them.
Madden also said that the specialist will be establishing best practices in line with appointments to boards and commissions so the public will know in advance of a vacancy so they can submit their name as interested.
In another change, council Chairman Brian Zidek announced a new set of standards for county council members and all directors of county departments.
That includes not accepting any gifts or meals except in limited circumstances; not serving as paid staff for any political candidate or organization; and being required to disclose and obtain approval of any additional paid position or consulting work.
He also disclosed that council members and department heads would undergo ethics and conflict of interest training to better familiarize themselves with such practices for public officials.
In line with that, council plans to host its first ethics and reform public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6 in the County Council Public Meeting Room at 201 W. Front St. in Media. Topics to be discussed will include developing policies to establish an independent Board of Ethics and Inspector General, eliminating pay-to-play and self-dealing, instituting a complete gift ban for all county employees and increasing public reporting of what government is doing and why.
At its first meeting, council already has changed its regular meeting time to 6 p.m. to allow more people to attend while also instituting office hours for each member during the week to allow the public and county employees to have access to them and began live streaming the meetings.
"It's not enough for our new majority to say that we are going to do things differently," Schaefer said. "We have to change the processes and policies that have for too long allowed insiders and special interests to benefit at the expense of the residents and taxpayers of Delaware County."