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Monroe Common Council agrees to outsource hiring
MONROE - By a slim margin, Monroe Common Council members decided at their meeting Wednesday to outsource the hiring of an administrative assistant for the next year to Ricoh USA, a Pennsylvania-based company that produces printing supplies and provides support services on a global scale.

A single vote made the decision at 4-3. Aldermen Rob Schilt, Brooke Bauman, Chris Beer and Charles Koch agreed to a year-long contract with the employment services agency to fill the city position. Fellow council members Tom Miller, Richard Thoman and Ron Marsh voted against the contract. Jeff Newcomer and Michael Boyce were absent.

While some members of the council said they welcomed new ideas, others expressed past grievances with temporary employment agencies.

"If we hired somebody as city staff, we'd still have that stuff anyhow, right?" Thoman said, adding he's been disappointed in past personal experience with temporary work companies. "We're not really gaining anything by having a Ricoh person there versus just through the city."

Bauman disagreed, pointing to the terms of the agreement specifying that if an employee hired through Ricoh were to fall ill, leave for a vacation or have an extended absence, the agency would provide another skilled employee to do the work.

"I just think it makes sense," Bauman said. "We can try it. I think it would be a good opportunity for us to try this. We've always done things the exact same way we've always done them."

City Clerk Arianna Voegeli was hired Feb. 21 after working in the interim to replace former clerk Carol Stamm, who left her position in January. With the departure of the deputy clerk in 2017, that left one person to perform the duties of three, prompting action to hire a clerical employee.

City Administrator Phil Rath said a benefit of the service for just over $65,000 per year - including the cost of the employee's salary - is the replacement of any employee absences and a less "messy" way of dealing with potential personnel issues than if an employee was hired by the city directly.

The position with the city is a union one if not hired through Ricoh. Rath added that a benefit to utilizing Ricoh could be flexibility in job requirements without a bargaining process for a higher wage. If hired by the city without Ricoh, the secretarial position would require pay of $17 per hour. Marsh said even at that rate, it didn't seem logical to make a contract with Ricoh because it would be less expensive to hire a person directly. Rath said another problem could be a lack of qualified applicants, which has happened in the past.

Schilt welcomed a new outlook, noting the contract could bring new ideas to the city and at least outline the city needs for hiring if it was not a successful endeavor.

"I'm not afraid of change," Schilt said.

Miller was pessimistic about the idea and agreed with Thoman regarding temporary employment agencies, saying they "always look good on paper." Rath stressed that Ricoh was not that type of business, though it does have similarities.

"From what I hear, they have some pretty top-notch employees," Rath said, restating that the hire would be a long-term, stable employee.

Rath said Ricoh will have up to 90 days to find a person for the job and that the hire will likely be local. Costs to the city do not begin until an employee starts in the position and monthly meetings will be held to assess their work. If the employee "isn't a good fit," the city can request a replacement be made and has the option to terminate its contract with Ricoh. If it were to end the agreement before the 12-month duration, Rath said the city would have to pay the equivalent of four months of salary.