Ohio Municipal League
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Testimony given by Susan Cave, Executive
Director of the Ohio Municipal League
The Civil Service laws for the State of Ohio and its political subdivisions are the classic "one size fits all" statute that just doesnt fit all. The system is inflexible, often cumbersome, difficult to interpret, and certainly not timely.
Non-charter cities and charter cities which have adopted in whole or part the provisions of Chapter 124 are subject to some or all of the states civil service laws; villages, those municipal corporations with less than 5,000 population are not covered by state civil service statutes. Cities perform a variety of services to their residents and persons visiting or working within their boundaries. Because cities need employees with a wide range of skills they must complete with the private sector to obtain the best labor force possible for the taxpayers. Given the cumbersome procedures they often cannot be competitive in both recruitment and hiring.
A - Make the Civil Service statutes more user friendly. The provisions of Chapter 124 ORC are currently presented in a manner that cannot be easily followed. Members of municipal civil service commissions are not necessarily professionals in the field; they are part-time appointees. In all but the largest of cities, these commissioners seldom have sufficient professional full-time staff to assist them in performing their statutorily prescribed duties.
....At the very least, the statues should be rewritten and then reordered so that it is clear which sections apply to the state, which to counties, which to cities, etc.
B - CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATIONS
...In order to obtain the best labor force to perform the numerous services required and demanded of cities, a wide variety of testing or assessment methods need to be clearly permitted for all municipal employees covered under civil service. Flexibility in the use of these methods either singly or in combination must rest with the city with some comfort level that the municipal civil service commission wont always be second guessed.
...Increased technical assistance in the testing area should be provided by the state both in the selection of the testing mechanism and the conduct of the test or assessment.
C - HIRING PROCESS - PREFERENCES AND EXTRA CREDIT
...Current law requires adding 20% to a veterans score on a civil service test. This generous requirement can have the negative effect of eliminating or discouraging otherwise qualified women and minority applicants. The federal model is less generous and could produce a more equitable result. We are only suggesting a lesser reliance on this particular preference, not its elimination.
...Give clear authorization for cities to grant extra credit or preferences in cases where the applicant already has received necessary or mandatory certification or training related to the position. Allow cities to establish such a policy locally.
D - DISPLACEMENT AND LAYOFF PROCEDURES
...While the procedures in Sections 124.321 - 124.328 ORC may make some sense for the State of Ohio with large numbers of employees in each of multiple classifications, it is overwhelming to municipalities which have vastly smaller numbers of employees and far fewer classifications. In some instances it probably doesnt work at all.
E - SAFETY FORCES
... There is very little uniformity in hiring and promotional practices for city safety forces and other municipal employees covered by civil service.
... For original appointments the list of 10 should apply for all.
... For promotional appointments for all employees, the list to choose from should be comprised of at least 3.
... Seniority credit for promotional purposes should be applied uniformly throughout all municipal departments and should only be based upon service with the municipality where the person is employed not some other jurisdiction.
... Authorize cities to hire the police or fire chief from outside the ranks of the city department. This could be achieved by permitting council to take such action by ordinance subject to initiative and referendum or by making it a local option ballot issue.
.... Allow cities to combine the police and fire department into one department. Again, this could be achieved by permitting council to take such action by ordinance, subject to initiatives or referendum or making it a local option ballot issue.
F - COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Chapter 4117, Ohios Collective Bargaining law has been on the books since 1983. There have been few changes since its enactment. I would hope that this commission, while not charged to review these particular statutes, might feel inclined to at least recommend that a review be considered by another commission in the very near future. The two sets of statutes do tend to bump into one another on occasion.