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Watertown’s city manager has proposed a reorganization of the leadership of the professional staff. Sharon A. Addison discussed with the City Council on Monday a plan to replace her confidential assistant, Elliott B. Nelson, who resigned to take a job in Illinois.

Ms. Addison intends to appoint Elizabeth U. Morris, executive secretary of the city’s Civil Service Commission, to the job. In the position, Mrs. Morris will direct the city’s human resources operation, a task that Ms. Addison has been advocating for since early in her tenure as city manager.

The city has lacked a personnel department. And as the practices, laws and regulations governing employees have multiplied over the last decade, the city has been remiss in not appointing a person to manage employee relations.

The Civil Service Commission manages the state system of required tests for almost every job offered by the city and Watertown school system. Civil service law is complex and is a field in itself. But it does not include the new requirements in the workplace for safety, nondiscrimination training, health care administration, workers compensation protection, retirement system oversight and a myriad of other activities that consume human resource directors in most every organization.

The city will benefit from Mrs. Morris’s civil service expertise in the new role of human resource management. One of her main jobs will be to find a replacement for her previous civil service position.

And she then plans to retire a year from now. That year working with Ms. Addison will provide a beneficial opportunity to organize the entire personnel operation of the city into a singular system, which includes oversight of the Civil Service Commission and better managed workplace.

As Ms. Addison manages this transition, the City Council should carefully and seriously consider the proposal to include in next year’s budget the position of assistant city manager. City staff members have been gradually strengthened over the last several years, resulting in a professional leadership corps. The addition to Ms. Addison’s staff of an assistant will then allow her to devote effort to the long-term demands of the city such as capital investments to upgrade the city’s aging sewerage collection system, the future of the hydro-electric power generating station, city parks, recreation facilities and improving the quality of housing in the city.

These management changes will prepare the city to meet foreseen challenges of the next decade and provide a climate for growth, which will benefit all city residents.

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