Meridian, Miss. The City of Meridian is changing some of its hiring policies. By a 3-2 vote, the city council approved a measure which affects temporary workers.
Council president George Thomas and Ward 3 Councilwoman Barbara Henson were the council members who voted against changing the hiring policies at this time.
The change requires department heads and the chief administrative officer, who work as temporary employees, to be brought before the council for confirmation within 90 days of his or her appointment.
The council can grant an extension. However, under the new policy the council can suspend the employee's salary if the mayor does not present that candidate for confirmation, or if the extension request is denied.
"This puts the city of Meridian in a better position so people can't just be in limbo," says Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston. "They're either going to be confirmed to work for the city, or they're going to be voted down, and we can get somebody in that position that can fill that position, and do it correctly."
"I did not like the fact that I got a signed temporary policy given to me right before the meeting," says Mayor Percy Bland. "I did not get a chance to go over that policy, but I think that the entire decorum and respect shown by certain leaders of the city council last night was uncalled for, and that will be the last time that this mayor is disrespected at a city council meeting!"
Since July, the chief administrative officer for Meridian and two department heads have been working as temporary employees. The council's vote Tuesday night also affects all temporary employment jobs that fall under the civil service division. The new policy will require all of those workers to go through civil service hiring procedures no later than 90 days after being appointed. This means that they will have to take the civil service test, be interviewed, and that the position will have to be advertised within 90 days of the temporary worker being hired.
"That temporary policy is going to affect a lot of people, and I just want it to be consistently done across the board, even with all the employees that have been hired since the '90's who have been hired that way," said Bland. "There will be a lot of good people who most likely will lose their jobs until all of this gets ironed out."
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, a dozen or more temporary workers had been appointed by Mayor Bland. Newscenter 11 has contacted officials with the City of Meridian's Civil Service Division. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, we were awaiting a response from them regarding the exact number of city workers who could be affected by the new policy changes.