Mayor to Hire New HR Director But Consolidate City, School Offices in Future
Bettencourt says he will pursue consolidating some operations between the city and schools, such as the human resource departments.
Heidi Henson, who spent 10 years on the job and was first appointed by former Mayor Michael Bonfanti, resigned earlier in August. Bettencourt said the decision to leave was a mutual one between himself and Henson.
The job was then publicly advertised and 20 applicants turned in their resumes, Bettencourt said.
In the interim, Bettencourt's chief of staff Chris Ryder, Finance Director Patricia Schaffer and Dr. Herb Levine, who is now on board as a paid city consultant, are sharing Henson’s responsibilities in managing the Human Resources Department.
Bettencourt said last week that 12 candidates were being interviewed. Levine, Ryder and School Committee member Beverley Griffine Dunne are serving as a screening committee who will then forward on the finalists to Bettencourt.
Henson is among a handful of top city officials whom Bettencourt has let go since taking office – most recently it was Building Commissioner Kevin Goggin. In the first few months of his tenure, Bettencourt appointed a new legal team led by Michael Smerczynski, hired a chief of staff and brought Jean Carnevale in as the new city treasurer.
He also made a couple other key promotions, but those were mainly due to retirements, and replaced a few staff members at City Hall.
Consolidating offices expected to reap savings
Bettencourt readily reveals he is planning to follow through on years of talks among elected officials to consolidate some operations between the city and schools. In this case, the area of human resources was identified in a study last year as a potential for savings and efficiencies by eliminating duplicative services. The timing is opportune with former School HR Director Louise Genualdo’s departure this summer.
The consolidation study was commissioned by Bonfanti and reviewed by the City Council last fall. The largest area for savings was actually identified as within the Peabody Municipal Light Plant, which operates independently of the city, but Bettencourt has made no public moves to begin talks there yet. He has said he would like to work together with PMLP on that front as well.
The plans for consolidating city and school offices are still just plans at this stage.
Bettencourt says he would first need approval from the School Committee to relinquish control of the district’s HR office and then support from the City Council for an increased salary for the director of the new centralized office.
For the time being, a new director will be hired for the existing city department and the school office will remain vacant.