Walden may hire a deputy village manager

By Jared Castañeda
Posted 5/15/24

The Walden Village Board, despite missing Mayor John Ramos and Trustee Ralph Garrison Jr., pressed on and discussed potential employee changes during its May 17 meeting, including amendments to job …

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Walden may hire a deputy village manager


The Walden Village Board, despite missing Mayor John Ramos and Trustee Ralph Garrison Jr., pressed on and discussed potential employee changes during its May 17 meeting, including amendments to job descriptions and requirements.

The board opened the meeting by establishing the deputy manager position, which would assist the village manager in their responsibilities. Deputy Mayor Chris Batson stated that the board drafted a local law for the position, including updated language to sound a bit less strict.

“We removed the language of ‘shall,’ making it appear less mandatory and providing us with some discretion as to whether the position should be open,” Batson said, adding that the board replaced “shall” with “authorized to have.”

The board approved the position but had one lingering question: who should appoint the deputy manager? Trustee Becky Pearson suggested that the board make the appointment, while former mayor Susan Taylor asserted that the village manager should have that power.

“I would like the law to read somewhere that the position would be appointed by the board of trustees as opposed to a manager appointing it,” Pearson said. “Because I think that since it’s going to be a deputy manager position, I think it still should be overseen by the board.”

“I don’t think the board should have approval on it, that should be a choice of the manager. You hired him as the CEO of the village, he should have some leverage as to who he works with, what qualifications, and what talents that person has,” Taylor said, adding that the board could terminate the manager if they prove unsatisfactory.

The board agreed to continue this appointment debate during the next meeting.

Employee Residencies and Responsibilities
Later, the board scheduled a public hearing on May 21 at 6 p.m. to amend village employees’ residency requirements. Currently, applicants who apply to the village government must live within the Town of Montgomery, but this amendment would expand the residency to all of Orange County, increasing the applicant range.

“The village provides by the section that any person shall be eligible to be appointed an officer of the village, provided such a person is a citizen of the United States, is at least 18 years of age, and is a resident of the Town of Montgomery,” Batson read from the village code. “Our proposal is to change it to ‘resident of Orange County.’”

Following this, the board members discussed the village clerk’s responsibilities and how they should evaluate their employees. During the village’s April 16 meeting, Garrison proposed that the clerk and other officials should adhere strictly to their job descriptions, arguing that employees taking on unassigned roles could decrease productivity.

“There was a concern about what duties a clerk is supposed to do and not supposed to do,” said Village Manager John Revella. “There were a couple of board members that thought that the clerk should do whatever the statutory rules were for the clerk to do, and then cross-train for the other duties.”

Batson stated that job descriptions should remain clear and concise and acknowledged that cross-training would prove useful in emergencies, such as when an employee becomes ill and needs a temporary replacement for the day.

“My preference is the job description stays the job description. There should be cross-training and that should be part of the job description; you’re always going to extend out in times of need,” Batson said. “But when it comes to things like performance appraisals and what we can hold people accountable to, I think that the job description should be clear and unchanging except for the most extreme circumstances.”

Other trustees shared Batson’s sentiment and agreed that they should evaluate their employees on their core responsibilities rather than unassigned roles they may take up.

“I feel like there could be a little leeway for a person who goes above and beyond and does more, but the bare minimum is what you’re being evaluated on, what you’re supposed to perform,” said Trustee Liz Kyle.

“There are definite ways to address somebody that has gone above and beyond on occasion, whether that be cross-training or otherwise,” said Trustee Bill Taylor. “But the goal here is to put something in place that’s clear and concise that we’re going to evaluate an individual on.”

The board decided to continue this discussion during the next meeting and do more “homework” in the meantime.