With a little more breathing room in the upcoming annual budget, Lebanon officials aim to add two key administrative positions to city staff.
City officials are looking to add a human resources director position and an economic development director position with passage of the 2014-15 annual budget.
According to Mayor Philip Craighead, both positions existed in some fashion previously in the city, but they were eliminated during the height of the nation’s financial crisis in 2009.
The city council, at that time, cut roughly 30 positions from varying departments to help cut costs.
But fast-forward five years, and city officials believe the city can now afford to replace some of what was cut during the crisis.
And as city officials envision it, both positions boil down to growth – dealing with current growth in city staff numbers and positioning the city for future economic growth.
Craighead said the city has a full-time acting human resources director with one part-time employee assisting, but that’s not enough to meet current demands.
“We’re totally undermanned,” said Craighead.
He said there are more than 300 city employees on staff, including full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, with just the one full-time and one part-time employee handling all the human resources functions.
Robert Springer, the city’s commissioner of finance and revenues, said adding a full-time director would allow human resources to take over administrating employee benefits. Springer’s department handles the task right now.
“With most cities, that’s not typically handled in the finance commissioner’s office,” said Springer.
City officials also want to add a person to help recruit new businesses.
“Several council members and the mayor have felt like with the recruitment of businesses being so competitive now, and Lebanon being geographically in a great position, the city needs to have someone [to seek out new businesses],” said Springer.
Craighead said the Joint Economic and Community Development Board brings in new industry, such as the Starbucks and Amazon distribution centers, but the city needs someone who can focus on attracting retail businesses.
Councilor Kathy Warmath has said she would like to see retail shopping areas on the scale of Mt. Juliet’s Providence come to Lebanon.
Springer said the 2014-15 budget already allocates $62,000 for the human resources director position and $60,000 for the economic development director position, but he also said those figures are simply estimates at this point. The final pay rates would be determined by the specific candidates’ qualifications.
City officials had planned to discuss the specific job descriptions for the proposed positions during a work session Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Town Meeting Hall, but that meeting was cancelled Friday.