City taking step to revise civil service

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - City officials say that the civil service system of employee protection is not going away.

However, there appears to be changes in the making.

The Shepherdsville City Council listened to the first reading to repeal the current ordinance and adopt a revised set of standards.

The final reading and vote will come at the June 8 meeting.

(Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the May 25 meeting has been cancelled.)

The original ordinance was adopted in early 2006 without much fanfare. However, it became one of the campaign issues later that year.

Under the original ordinance, all employees are protected under the civil service guidelines, including department heads.

City attorney Bill Wilson said the wishes of the council has been to make changes to the original document.

First, the storm water coordinator’s position must be added to the list of city positions.

Second, Wilson said the provision protecting supervisors would be eliminated.

Those department heads currently employed would still be protected under the civil service ordinance.

New ones hired at a later date would be employed under the wishes of the mayor.

Wilson said any employee has rights to appeals if they feel they are terminated improperly.

During the 2006 mayor’s campaign, challenger Sherman Tinnell said the incoming leader should have the right to select the department supervisors he would be working with.

The only department head to be fired when Tinnell took office was police chief Ronald Morris, who was terminated in 2007.

Under the civil service system, a three-member panel would hear appeals to disciplinary action. The three members would then make a ruling, which could then be appealed to Bullitt Circuit Court.

In the three years of existence, only two cases have gone before the civil service commission.

One employee, Chuck Keith, was terminated in December 2006. He was returned to his job by the civil service board, whose original three members were replaced when Tinnell took office.

Morris, who was terminated in mid-2007, did not receive his job back after the commission refused to overturn the mayor’s dismissal. That case is currently pending in both circuit and federal courts.

The original goal of the system was to protect employees from political pressure and to help retain quality employees. The mayor did not lose the right to fire any employee. However, any decision could then be appealed to the civil service board.