The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 14, 2007


Personnel Board members are (left to right) Laurel Ostrom, JoAnn Driscoll and Doris Jafferian. (Photo by Dave Ives)

Personnel Board works quietly behind the scenes

Helps define jobs, salaries, employee policy

Do you ever wonder who is responsible for determining job descriptions and appropriate pay rates for Carlisle town employees or who would address employee issues or grievances? These are some of the basic responsibilities of the Carlisle Personnel Board. This five-member board is appointed by and reports to the Board of Selectmen on all matters pertaining to town personnel.

According to Chair JoAnn Driscoll, "Basically, the Personnel Board is responsible for overseeing the Town Hall employees. We also have a representative for police contract negotiations; however, we do not oversee the school employees. That work is done by the School Committee." When asked about the day-to-day work of the board, Driscoll noted that the board works closely with Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie who, in addition to her other responsibilities, functions as the personnel administrator implementing the policies approved by the Personnel Board and serving as the contact for town employees.

The most common issues addressed by the Personnel Board include determining appropriate job descriptions and pay rates for new hires and addressing changes in employment (full to part time, change in number of hours worked, etc.) Additionally, when a town department wishes to change the number of work hours for an employee or to pay overtime, the Personnel Board asks for a justification and a determination of whether or not the department budget can accommodate the change. The board discusses these issues at their monthly meetings and makes recommendations to the Board of Selectmen.

The Personnel Board is also charged with addressing employee grievances and other personnel matters of a more personal nature, but these circumstances are rare, according to Driscoll.

With the exception of these personal situations, Personnel Board meetings are open to the public. "Our meetings are open 99% of the time. Town employees or any interested party are welcome to attend."

Each fall the board also prepares town-wide salary recommendations for the Board of Selectmen as the town begins its budgeting process. In addition to the day-to-day issues that arise and the annual salary recommendations, the board also has several long-term projects.

Driscoll noted that several years ago the Personnel Board instituted a new wage and classifications system. The new system is used when the board suggests pay rates for new hires or pay level increases for town employees during the town-wide budgeting process.

"The implementation of the new wage and classification system was a major effort for the board," Driscoll said. "Now when we have a new hire, we can determine where they are in terms of wage and classification to determine the appropriate pay scale for the employee."

She explained, "We want to keep pay levels comparable to those in comparable towns. When new positions are identified, we ask the hirer what tasks the new employee will be doing and we check comparable salaries. It is important that we provide competitive salaries if we want to keep good employees."

Driscoll stated that a major focus for the coming year will be changes to the policy manual. This process has been underway for some time, but as Driscoll notes, "There are still things that need to be added and policies that need to be fine-tuned and updated."

Driscoll, whose educational background is in psychology and who works in instructional design, has served on the committee for close to ten years. Member Doris Jafferian is also a long-term board member. Recently retired, Jafferian had been department chair and professor of management at Daniel Webster College where she taught human resources in addition to other management courses. Jafferian describes the board as "a good group that works hard to try to be fair to everyone who comes before us."

Laurel Ostrom is relatively new to the board, having served just one year. Ostrom has a background in human resources.

A vacancy exists on the five-member board, which Driscoll notes is a "congenial group that works well together and is open to new ideas and suggestions." She suggests that residents interested in serving on the Personnel Board should contact her for more information or forward a letter of interest directly to the Board of Selectmen.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito