MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBMA) — Two south Alabama lawmakers want to allow cities and other government entities to be able to opt out of using personnel boards.
From firefighters and police to city hall staff the Jefferson County Personnel Board oversees hiring and recruitment of government workers across the county. All cities in Jefferson County are under the board except Hoover.
And it comes with a price tag. The city of Birmingham pays the personnel board $3.5 million dollars.
Other cities fees to the board:
Vestavia Hills $327,000
The two Mobile County lawmakers say the current system is outdated contending the red tape of testing and compiling lists of candidates takes too long. They believe local governments can handle those duties on their own.
"The personnel board is just an antiquated system that, at one time had a place maybe in the 1940s. But today, with the internet, with all of the rules and regulations out of Washington, cities and counties could effectively spend that money in a lot more effective and wise manner," explained Representative Chip Brown who is sponsoring the house bill.
SEE ALSO: Fire District responds to large number of pedestrians hit
SEE ALSO: Northport considers becoming independent school system
He says workers won't lose protections and taxpayers will save money. "There's so many federal regulations and rules regarding nepotism, regarding discrimination, regarding equal hiring practices, that, that aspect of it wouldn't change," remarked Brown.
But the local police union has concerns. "No one was contacted about these bills until they hit the floor. You don't want to roll things back to the sixties," said Deangelo Hall, President of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Hall fears employees would lose key protections such as due process and the chance to appeal a disciplinary action to an independent board. "You wouldn't want to appeal to the same person that governs you," explained Hall.
He tells ABC 3340 News taking an employment issue to court can take years and since Alabama is an 'at will' state employees could be fired for any reason. Hall says the union is willing to talk about changes and understands the need for cities to hire employees on a shorter timetable.
He does not want to see hiring standards lowered. "You don't have to reinvent the wheel just put new tires on," said Hall.
The Jefferson County Personnel Board's director did not respond to our calls for comment. A notice on the boards website tells workers to contact their lawmakers with feedback or concerns. The legislation is HB22 and SB163.
"We're working the phones getting members to reach out to their representatives and state senators," remarked Hall.
The city of Birmingham did not respond to our request for comment on the issue.
A spokesperson for Vestavia Hills says they are very pleased with the board and its value especially the worker training aspect.
Gardendale's Mayor Stan Hogeland also echoed those sentiments saying for the money his city couldn't do the same job on their own.