by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
Ever wonder what some of the City’s various committees, boards and commissions actually do in supporting our community?
Well on Monday, December 20, 2021 I got a first hand look at the key role that the Pass Christian Civil Service Commission plays in supporting the City employees covered under civil service rules, our Police and Fire Departments.
Adam Pace, Donald Moore and Halle Ricketts make up this key commission that does far more than people may presume or think.
In addition to meeting every month on the 3rd Monday, at 5:30, the commission provides a myriad of other functions.
Commissioners are nominated to the Pass Christian Board of Alderman by the mayor and serve a six year term. Terms for all three current commissioners are set to expire August 1, 2024.
Did you know that Commissioners conduct regular civil service exams? That’s right, they donate their personal time to provide all required civil service exams to all police and fire recruits. This involves hours of dedicated time to ensure the integrity of the exams.
The Commission also tackles the creation of new position descriptions as well as changes to old ones. They ensure they remain current and accurately reflect duties associated with each position.
They are also available to adjudicate employee disputes and can even conduct hearings or even a trial.
Fortunately, these disputes have been few and far between however, these tools are available to those under the City’s civil service system.
At the December 20th meeting reports were given by both Police Chief Daren Freeman and Fire Chief Dwight Gordon. As with most businesses and organizations, both struggle with attracting and maintaining a viable workforce.
In fact, Freeman reported that he currently has three vacancies and that out of eighteen recent applicants, only three showed up to take the civil service exam. Gordon reported that he has two vacancies and out of fifteen recent applicants, none of them showed up.
Commissioner Moore asked if they maintained a list of potential job candidates that had already passed their civil service exams and both Chief’s replied that they didn’t. Freeman explained that all local first responder agencies are having the same problem with attracting and keeping good employees. He added, “I will NOT lower our standards” to fill these jobs.
Commissioner Ricketts posed a number questions regarding policies, procedures, testing requirements and then asked if the Commission was in compliance with all applicable local and state laws, especially as it applied to testing.
Both Commissioners and Chiefs emphatically affirmed that the Commission was not only in full compliance but was also going above and beyond to meet the mission of the Civil Service Commission.
Commissioner Ricketts made several recommendations including the possibility of expanding the Commission from three to five members. Commission Chair Adam Pace commented that all changes would require Board of Alderman approval.
Since other changes may need to be changed, the Commission agreed to host a workshop in January 2022.
If by chance you’re interested in seeing how this commission works, meetings are open to the public. All you need to do is go to the north side of the Pass Christian Public Safety Center and enter the side door.
Please visit the City’s website (pass-christian.com) for additional information.