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City Council discusses City Hall reshuffling, Civil Service secretary retiring

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In a City Hall reshuffling, Elizabeth U. Morris, the Civil Service Commission executive secretary for the past decade, plans to retire next year. But until then she will take on a new role as City Manager Sharon A. Addison’s confidential assistant.

The Watertown City Council met in a special work session Monday to discuss Ms. Addison’s plan to fill some vacancies caused partly by the recent resignation of Elliott B. Nelson. Mr. Nelson, confidential assistant to the city manager, left Friday to take a similar position in Illinois.

Under the plan, Mrs. Morris will head human resources activities, directing employee benefits and helping to find a replacement for her in the Civil Service position. Her annual salary for the next year will be $49,548. She plans to retire in October 2014.

Ms. Addison also plans to hire an administrative specialist to handle employee health insurance matters and maintain personnel files. That salary will be $40,000 a year.

Melanie Wright, the former fringe benefit specialist, recently moved to the water department.

Council members informally signed off on the interim plan for the third-floor vacancies.

“It makes sense to me,” Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns said.

But Ms. Addison also told council members she would like to see Mr. Nelson’s position elevated to deputy or assistant city manager in the 2014-15 budget. The City Charter would have to be amended.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said that is a topic for discussion another day.

While the interim plan accomplishes what is needed, Mrs. Morris said, it takes a special type of person to fill her current job. The city’s three-member Civil Service Commission will appoint her successor.

The commission plans to start advertising for the executive secretary in Sunday’s Watertown Daily Times. The successful candidate could have secretarial skills, but it is more important the person be able to “pay attention to detail,” Mrs. Morris said. It could take four or five years for the new executive secretary to get a handle on the job, she said.

Mrs. Morris has worked in the position for the past 10 years. In that time, she handled finding a new fire chief and police chief. She also is involved in finding another new police chief, caused by last year’s retirement of Joseph J. Goss.

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