A former Westerville personnel coordinator has been tapped to head Pickerington's human resources department.

A former Westerville personnel coordinator has been tapped to head Pickerington's human resources department.

Beginning Jan. 1, Lynn Miller will officially take over as Pickerington's human resources director, replacing Linda Fersch, who is retiring after 31 years with the city.

Miller comes to the city after serving as the city of Westerville's human resources coordinator since 2003. She also is a former administrative assistant for the city of Delaware and has marketing and public relations experience.

"Pickerington is poised for tremendous growth and that will be a challenge to services the city can provide," Miller said. "The fact that they're adding this human resources function now and the opportunity to design and form it with that growth was attractive."

Miller was hired by the city on Nov. 29 and has worked under Fersch since that time. She was selected from a pool of 74 applicants.

"Pickerington is very fortunate to have been in the position to secure the services of Lynn Miller," Pickerington city manager Bill Vance said. "Lynn Miller is a local government HR veteran with years of successful HR service in Westerville's HR Department.

"Lynn has been tasked with continuing our city's creation of a progressive human resources department designed to keep city employees healthy and safe while they serve Pickerington's residential and commercial citizens with the provision of great customer service and positive municipal results."

Miller's official duties will include maintaining and implementing Pickerington's employee-employer policies, assisting the city manager in establishing questionnaires, grading methodology and testing procedures for all classified city staff, helping the city manager in hiring new employees and participating in employee contract negotiations and collective bargaining agreements.

She also will coordinate employee health benefits, vacation leave and other employee benefits, workers' compensation and employee evaluations.

Miller's starting salary annual salary is $72,500. Per city policy, she is eligible for a raise after a six-month probationary period, which would increase her annual pay to $75,000.

"Experienced HR professionals like Lynn Miller pay for themselves by reducing organizational liability and negotiating the best health insurance benefits and rates competitively possible," Vance said. "Linda Fersch has created a very appreciated and positive HR momentum during her 2010 tenure as Pickerington's HR director and Lynn will continue on with Linda's successful efforts to update the city's classification and pay plans, job descriptions (and) human resources manual while assisting the city manager incorporate his 2011 reorganization plan - all the while working to develop and institute an active employee safety and perpetual job-training programs.

"Pickerington not having an HR director absolutely would cost the city more in lost employee production and increased liability due to predictably more employee illness and injuries associated with less healthy employees and a less safe work-place," Vance said. "Employees not at their best lead to inefficiency and workplace mistakes, which leads to lost productivity and increased liability, which, in turn will create an organization that is going backwards as it begins to cost more while accomplishing less."

Miller said she's familiar with many of the issues facing Pickerington and its employees after maintaining a professional relationship with Fersch the past five years through a variety of professional organizations, including the Central Ohio Risk Management Association.

"I'm aware of some the challenges facing personnel and with Pickerington," she said. "That's been a real advantage.

"At least initially, I want to help the city's administration develop personnel training and program policies."

Miller also is endorsed by her predecessor, Fersch, who currently is Pickerington's longest-tenured city employee.

"We had 74 applicants and they were all very well qualified, but Lynn stood out," Fersch said. "She had a lot of awards in Westerville, she's done a lot of work to get that city safety grants and she's very enthusiastic."