Hilliard Northwest News

OAPSE questions Hilliard's potential reduction of veterans' scoring bonuses

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Hilliard City Council members have been asked to tweak a proposed ordinance adopting new Civil Service Commission rules, which would include the reduction of veterans' scoring bonuses from 20 percent to 10 percent.

The ordinance had a second reading and public hearing Aug. 25 and it is scheduled for a third reading Sept. 8.

Chris Clarizio, president of Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 310, which represents the Hilliard City Schools' classified employees, appealed to City Council members Aug. 25 to reconsider the scoring-bonus reduction.

City administrators said a 20 percent bonus places veterans too far ahead of nonveteran minorities on their lists used to select whom to interview for civil-service jobs.

Clarizio said he would prefer the bonus remain at 20 percent but reiterated it should at least remain in place during the term of the current OAPSE contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2016.

Clarizio said he was unaware of the proposed change until learning it from media reports.

He said the scoring bonuses are a benefit veterans have earned and assist them in employment opportunities.

However, city attorney Tracy Bradford said the proposed 10 percent bonus is more aligned with other civil-service commissions in Ohio that provide such bonuses.

"We were in a position where minorities were not (getting interviews)," Bradford said.

Human-resources director Gerry Edwards said the decision was not made for the sake of change.

"It was not a decision we took lightly," Edwards said.

Edwards said once a 20 percent bonus was added for veterans, those candidates were often the only ones interviewed because the position was filled before other candidates lower on the list had an opportunity to interview.

"We felt we were not considering qualified female and minority candidates," Edwards said.

Police Chief Doug Francis said the policy was most evident in his department and thwarted the department's goal of increasing diversity.

Two women were among the city's most recent hires in June. They are expected to on the street early next year and are the first Francis has hired during his time as chief.

Francis told City Council members military veterans are predominantly male, and a 20 percent veterans' bonus places a disproportionate number of men on candidate lists.

"I've hired 15 police officers as chief and the last group was the first to have females," Francis said. "It's a real struggle (and) that's why we asked for 10 percent."

Clarizio pointed out the veterans' scoring bonuses do not guarantee hiring.

"We have a lens we look through as a city, but the schools have another," City Council Vice President Kelly McGivern said.

McGivern said Aug. 26 she would talk with other City Council members about the possibility of delaying the effective date of the change in veterans' scoring bonuses and how they are applied.

"We've only talked about the effect of the practice on the police department, but there are other civil-service jobs," McGivern said.

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