new laurel city hall

Mayor gives HR Department a B-

In his annual State of the City address to the City Council, Mayor Johnny Magee gave a comprehensive review of 2019 and outlook for 2020, assessing each department with a letter grade.

The Human Resources Department has Director Nellie Satcher and four employees. The City of Laurel still employs approximately 300 people with 12 of those being AmeriCorps grant workers.

“We had three employees retire and hired a total of 65 during the year,” Mayor Johnny Magee said. “Of those, 29 are still employed and 26 regulars were terminated and also 10 AmeriCorps workers were terminated for various reasons.”

A total of 53 flu shots were administered and all employees should have received sexual and workplace harassment training during the year. A revision of the Personnel Rules and Regulations is being proofread in order to present to the City Council and approved, Magee said.

Several EEOC claims were defended and moderated during the year, he said, and it was determined that the city was not at fault in any of them.

Satcher attended the annual state Labor and Employment Conference in August. 

Workers’ compensation claims in the past were “astronomical,” Magee said, but now they are “at the lowest point in several years, with all the safety practices that have been put in place.”

In the past, employees would go out on workers’ comp and stay for months, sometimes years, costing the city thousands of dollars, Magee said. 

“We hired SouthGroup to manage our workers’ comp and the cost has dramatically fallen,” he said. “These are costs savings that are not readily known that the citizens are no longer having to pay out.”

There are only eight claims from 2019 still open and the total incurred for 2019 was $89,978, “the lowest in years,” Magee said. There have been 11 claims so far this year for a total of $15,280.

The safety coordinator in the HR department is “doing an excellent job,” he said. “The position was lax in the enforcement of safety rules and regulations, and in November 2018, we replaced the coordinator.”

Since the hiring of Sandra Hadley, all three city elevators are certified and being serviced twice a year, which was not being done, Magee said. All the city’s fire extinguishers are up-to-date, serviced and in place in the buildings and vehicles to protect the city’s assets. All of the emergency generators are in service and are having maintenance done on them twice a year to ensure power in emergency situations.

She has also developed and run driver’s license checks every two months to ensure that our drivers are legal, again to protect the city in case of an accident, Magee said. Timely insurance claims are being filed to recoup money that had not been received from accidents. 

“Even though we were paying premiums, we were not filing claims to collect,” Magee said. “She created and sends out monthly notices for vehicle services. We pay a lot of money for these vehicles, and since they belong to the taxpayers, we need to make sure that they are maintained as well as possible so that they can last as long as possible. 

“She ensures that supervisors hold monthly safety meetings as stated in the Loss Prevention Policy and Procedures Manual. She has implemented safety checks for all city playgrounds and parks to lessen any city liability. We continue to conduct random drug tests to ensure the safety of employees. She has kept up with ways of improving the safety program for the city and has also stayed abreast of the proper procedures for filing different types of claims. 

“Some of the supervisors and employees who are not accustomed to following the safety criteria of the city are not too happy with the new coordinator, but she has been a major asset to the city.”

The Human Resources Department is rated as a B-, Magee concluded.

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