Bellevue drowning in pool details

Miscommunication and misunderstanding, along with a splash of politics, led to a tidal wave of problems as Bellevue Council attempted to prepare Tuesday for the opening of the Memorial Park swimming pool.

An effort to hire personnel revealed several procedural problems that may have been overlooked during the transition to a new council at the beginning of the year.

Parks committee chair Lynn Tennant Heffley announced that the pool manager this year would be subject to a new job description, which already had been explained to manager Maureen Grant, Heffley said.

The announcement led to objections by both Linda Woshner and Kathy Coder.

Woshner said that the borough’s personnel code had not yet been amended to make the new job description enforceable, and she pointed out clauses that she said were incomprehensible, vague, and demanding more from a seasonal employee than the borough did from its full-time department heads.

Woshner questioned the section of the new job description that made the pool manager responsible for pool employee discipline. She said that a seasonal employee should not be making final disciplinary decisions, which could create liability for the borough.

Director of administrative services Ron Borczyk said that he often did not have firsthand information about disciplinary problems, which made it difficult to decide what action was appropriate.

Woshner also objected to clauses that required the pool manager to attend certain meetings and track budget/revenue figures, something Woshner said were good ideas, but not required of other department heads.

Coder said that she thought the job description needed to be more detailed, and questioned several times whether the people hired were being told exactly what the jobs entailed.

Heffley clarified with the solicitor that the borough could give instructions to an employee without completely amending an entire ordinance, and noted that all council members had been informed of when interviews would take place, and no one had shown up.

Heffley asked why everyone was so worried about the pool, when other employees had been hired without question. The pool operation has been an item of contention for several years, with a private pool management company employed while Coder was council president, and operation reverting to an in-house manager under Woshner’s term as president.

Coder denied that she was attempting to micro-manage the pool, but said that it needed to be run like a business because of problems in the past.

“I think it’s a shame that you can’t trust Ron and I to interview people and tell them what we expect,” Heffley said. “We’re not idiots.”

Heffley said that she had been handed the job description two months ago when she became chair of the parks committee, which previously had been chaired by Jim Scisciani and included Coder as a member. At that time, Heffley said, she had been told this was the new job description and assumed that it had been thoroughly discussed and approved by the committee. Learning that it had not been, she said she agreed with Woshner that the solicitor needed to review the document before it was officially adopted, which will entail a public hearing and adoption of an amendment to the personnel code.

Council also may have to amend the borough’s salary ordinance before new pay rates can be implemented for several employees.

Council unanimously approved a resolution hiring Grant as manager, Michael Plazek as assistant manager, and Taylor Reed as concession stand manager at the pool.The pool will open Memorial Day weekend.

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