City Council looks to staffing solutions


Northern Star File Photo

Fire Truck is parked in the garage at the first DeKalb Fire House, 700 Pine St. 

By Jessie Kern

DEKALB – The current topic of conversation among DeKalb City Council members encompasses the measures being taken to pilot the city manager search and recruitment process.

During the June 18 Special Committee of the Whole meeting, City Council members and Human Resources Director Cris Randall discussed and shared their ideas for a hybrid recruitment process for hiring a new city manager.

The hybrid recruitment process would involve utilizing external organization GovHR to narrow down candidates and provide background information on each in an effort to minimize the amount of work to fall on the Council.

GovHR USA, located in Northbrook, IL, assists local governments in finding long-term or temporary staffing solutions, as well as helps with professional development, according to its webpage.

“[GovHR President Heidi Voorhees] provided information regarding assistance with access to qualified candidates through their database with thousands of applicants to create a profile,” said Randall.

She said to create the profile meetings would be conducted with each council member and any other stakeholders or department heads designated by the Council.

Randall said GovHR would conduct an objective third party assessment of each candidate, prescreen applicants via video chat and interview 15 to 20 candidates. She said they would also conduct a print and social media search and preliminary reference call.

She said all other parts of the process would be conducted in-house, which is what makes it a hybrid recruitment process.

“I’m the one who’s really asked about getting them to do a lot of the pre qualifications for us and I’d just like to talk about that again,” said Second Ward Alderperson Bill Finucane. “In terms of limiting the amount of staff time, limiting some of the potential liability we might see, we can determine how many qualified candidates we want to see.”

Finucane said in asking GovHR for 20 to 25 candidates chosen through them, the Council would still be able to look into the other applicants on their own time.

“I think [working with GovHR] at least gives us a lead on who they consider the top candidates are and saves us some of that leg work,” Finucane said.

Randall said another advantage of utilizing the organization is that it provides the Council with additional protection against potential claims of discriminatory hiring practices.

At 5 p.m. Monday, at the City Council Chambers in the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth Street, City Council will vote whether or not to move forward in working with GovHR to find a new city manager.

DeKalb City Council members also discussed the budget for the Human Resources department and the DeKalb Fire Department in a service level review of both.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McMaster presented the Council with the service level, annual report and budget report for 2017-2018.

“The way our stations are broken out is into three districts within the city of DeKalb, we have Station No. 1, which services central and northeast, we have the Station No. 2 which services the southside and Station No. 3 which services the northwest side,” McMaster said. “We are also contracted by NIU for Emergency Medical Services, fire and rescue services and also the DeKalb fire protection district.”

McMaster said Station No. 3 is the busiest and continues following the same trend. He also said the fire department receives an average of 450 calls a month with 74 percent of calls being EMS and rescue calls with numerous good intent calls.

McMaster said the number of fire incidents on average per year has plateaued or slightly decreased since 2012.

“What we attribute this to is in our fire education or safety education efforts and our community risk reduction such as various fire inspections, life safety inspections and commercial building inspections,” McMaster said.

McMaster said in terms of revenue, constituents continue to rely more heavily on Medicare and Medicaid, meaning they pay pennies on the dollar. He said as the number of people relying on those forms of health insurance increases, the department’s revenue does not.

Mayor Jerry Smith said the Council made some of the easier cuts to the DeKalb Fire Department’s budget this year.

“You know the pension obligation in this community and this state is just unbelievable I’m not saying it’s right, it’s wrong, or whatever,” said Smith. “But I am saying its just a continual albatross around our collective necks and we’ve got to get a handle on it somehow.”