Sage Solutions Group to Provide Professional HR Staff to City of Chelsea
The City of Chelsea is moving to retain the services of Sage Solutions Group to temporarily meet its project and staffing needs. At the most recent city council meeting on Monday, February 5, 2024, City Manager Marty Colburn requested the council’s approval to enter into negotiations with the locally-based professional services firm to fill in existing gaps.
Colburn said that the city has been understaffed in some positions since before his arrival and that the city’s attorney brought the matter to his attention when he started. “The city has a full-time staff currently at 46, authorized at 49. And we have 28 part-time and one interim so there's a significant amount of daily work that goes on with HR, everything from recruitment and training, and some of the things that aren't happening [like] evaluations. And this year we have three negotiations going on,” said Colburn.
According to Colburn, the Clerk’s office handled some of the onboarding and benefits work last year but it was determined that this year’s plan required professional services, and he clarified that the associated expenses are included in this year’s budget.
The agenda packet included a memo to the council from Mariah Evans Fink, Chelsea’s City Attorney, in support of Manager Colburn’s request and provided more background.
“Currently, the City Manager is the Human Resources department. For the most part, this is fine, but in several instances over the past few years, we’ve discovered that this structure leaves employees without anyone to consult with except the City Manager. It also leaves employees in a position where if they have concerns about their employment, the only person they can voice complaints to is also the person with ultimate authority to hire and fire employees.”
The memo continued, “City employees, including the City Manager, should have a neutral party to whom they can take issues that cannot be resolved with the current system. This request is not specific to any employee, or City Manager, it is intended as an overall improvement of the system that in its current state is not tenable and does not function in the best interests of the City employees.”
Before voting, the council posed a couple of practical questions. Councilmember Eric Keaton asked why Chelsea was only considering a single firm to provide the services. Said Colburn, “Primarily I look for somebody who could actually staff on site. Trying to bring somebody in from the…local area…I did find that they've had experience in the immediate area, experience with local government, and also had been recommended to us.”
Councilmember Tony Ianelli then inquired about the expected duration of the firm’s services saying, “I know there was some talk about hiring an assistant city manager to assist with these types of duties. Once that person is hired and brought in, these services would go away?”
Colburn responded, “I would like to think so. We might still bring somebody in to, for instance, do a salary study or something that's specific, but otherwise, I would like to get to that point yes.”
This week’s vote was simply to approve the negotiations. Once an agreement has been reached, Colburn will need to return to a future council meeting to seek approval to sign the agreement.