Council Decision Baffles Town Employee

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Former Human Resources Director Bob Smith said he was broadsided by the council's decision to do away with his position.

"No one talked to me, asked my opinion," he said. "The mayor came in 30 minutes prior to the posting (of the item on the council agenda) and said (it) matter of factly and left."

The Payson Town Council voted 4-3 Sept. 20 to abolish Smith's Human Resources Director position. The vote also merged the human resources department with the financial department.

Vice Mayor Tim Fruth and councilors John Wilson and Andy Romance voted against merging the departments and abolishing Smith's position.

Smith said he doesn't understand the reasoning behind the removal of his department.

"I think it's a mistake, as far as town employees are concerned," he said. "It leaves employees no place to go with concerns. It puts them in a place where they can't safely go voice their concerns. I've had employees come in crying. They are afraid. They've told me they are afraid."

Smith said he's spoken to employees who are afraid of the council and worry for their jobs.

"I've never had issues with the town or council or with job performance," he said.

While he said he has nothing against Debi Galbraith, his replacement, Smith said she's been given too much responsibility.

"Not that she's a bad person at all," he said. "The town manager position is a full-time position. There are so many things in (the HR) department alone that require constant attention. I don't see where one person can handle that."

Smith said he had planned to stay in Payson, but now doubts that will be attainable.

"They've put me in a position where I'm forced to leave Payson because of the economy," he said. "I'd love to stay in Payson."

He said he'd likely stay on with the town for the next five months as outlined in the council resolution unless he is able to find a job elsewhere.

Adding another hat to her rapidly expanding town wardrobe, Galbraith will gradually acquire human resources duties in the next several months.

Galbraith, who is also the town's Chief Fiscal Officer and interim town manager, was hired in March and began her work with the town in April of this year.

Mayor Bob Edwards said that the human resources department was undergoing "a change of organization."

"We think it will run more effectively," he said.

Edwards said the change is something that has been in the works for a while.

"We have a CFO that's had a lot of experience in that area," he said of Galbraith's work in human resources. "There's been some talk of this, as a result of that, for quite some time."

When discussing the possibility of Galbraith juggling too many responsibilities, Edwards said her past experience lent itself to this type of position.

"One of the things that stood out in her past is her activity in HR," he said.

Edwards said one of the reasons behind the hire of Galbraith was her knowledge of both the financial and human resources fields.

Galbraith may be performing all three jobs for a lengthy period of time. Edwards said that finding a replacement town manager was not on the council's top priority list.

"That's not something we'll get to quickly," he said. "Before this council leaves office, we'll have somebody."

Messages left with Galbraith were not returned.

The Human Resources Department had three positions prior to the council's vote. Smith, who had been director of the department since May 2005, will continue with the town for up to five months, at which time his job will be abolished.

Edwards said that Galbraith would work with Smith and gradually take over his responsibilities.

"It will be a transition period," he said. "This doesn't take effect for five months. Eventually the responsibility will be hers."

Two other former HR positions held by Tomi Huddlestun and Valerie Wilson will be moved to the finance department and be under the direction of Galbraith, Edwards said.

In addition to her financial responsibilities and new HR duties, Galbraith will officially acquire the interim town manager position on Monday.

The council accepted the resignation of former Town Manager Fred Carpenter on Sept. 6. At that time the council also appointed Galbraith as his replacement.

Carpenter will still act as a consultant to the town until April 2008.

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