City Council creates hiring freeze

On a motion introduced by Ranger Wilkerson that was not on the published agenda, the City Council voted Monday night to freeze all unfilled positions in the Henderson government with no exceptions. Future vacancies will automatically become frozen.

As it stood before the resolution, some positions were frozen and required council approval before they could be filled. Other positions were rehired when vacated at the discretion of the department head. According to the resolution passed Monday night, all hiring will be done only after the department heads obtain approval from the council.

The resolution does not include hiring that is already in process, meaning that commitments made by the city before the resolution will be honored.

“We’ve got to get a hold of the money,” Wilkerson told members as he advocated for the resolution.

Council member John Wester questioned whether Wilkerson’s resolution was any different from the situation as it stood. Council member Lonnie Davis expressed concerns as to how it would affect the department manager’s prerogative to hire.

Police Chief Glen Allen, the only department head at the council meeting, said three weeks between council meetings can be a long time when a position needs to be filled.

The Police and Public Works departments, two of the highest-visibility agencies in the city, face frequent job vacancies. Vance County has operated under a hiring freeze for several years but eventually loosened the reins to allow County Manager Jerry Ayscue, in consultation with the Board of Commissioners’ Human Resources Committee, to approve hiring in the Sheriff’s Department between the board’s monthly meetings.

Wilkerson’s resolution was carried with only Davis in opposition.