Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controller Critical of Human Resources Says Outsourcing Director's Job Not Worth It

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controller Critical of Human Resources Says Outsourcing Director's Job Not Worth It

Article excerpt

In an unusual move, Westmoreland County Controller Jeff Balzer stood at the podium last week at the county commissioners' meeting and strongly disagreed with the commissioners' decision to replace longtime human resources director Chuck Dominick, 62, with an outside management firm.

Mr. Balzer is the county's fiscal watchdog and an independently elected official. He is a Republican who was elected in 2011 when fellow Republicans, commissioners Chuck Anderson and Tyler Courtney, took the reins of county government for the first time in more than 50 years.

"I just don't buy the math," Mr. Balzer said. "They are going to pay double - they are paying Felice Associates $216,000 a year when the director made $95,000."

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Courtney approved the contract with Felice Associates of Greensburg, with Democratic Commissioner Ted Kopas voting no. They said Mr. Dominick, a Democrat who has been with the county for about 22 years, would get a severance package and a county pension.

Mr. Dominick said he had no comment when reached at home and said he was still in discussions with the county on a severance agreement.

The human resource director handles benefits and labor negotiations for the county's 2,000 employees. The county has 12 bargaining units.

"We don't need an outside firm," Mr. Balzer said at the meeting. "It's been made painfully clear to me that I do not have a vote here, but I do have a voice. And the people elected a watchdog, not a lapdog. I want to sound the alarm on financial matters."

Mr. Kopas called it an "unjustified firing," and said he preferred an in-house director. He criticized the move because it would spend more money when the county has a $10.6 million deficit.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Courtney said the move would save money in the long run, mainly in fees paid to legal firms. Last year, the county paid about $130,000 to the Campbell law firm in Pittsburgh for HR legal fees. But last week, commissioners moved to contract with the firm of Strassburger, McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky at a fee of $155 an hour for attorneys, when needed.

But Mr. Balzer disagreed that outsourcing the director's job would save on legal fees. …

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