Commission to appoint new Human Resources director
Hoping to break the impasse between the county and its two unions, Charlotte County administration officials have tapped a 10-year public schools system veteran with extensive background in contract negotiations to be the county’s new Human Resources director.
Heather Bacus, a Michigan resident and human-resource professional with more than 16 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, was the lead candidate in a nationwide search to replace former Charlotte County Human Resources director Pam Stein, who stepped down in July, according to Assistant County Administrator Kelly Shoemaker.
The county’s monthlong search yielded 44 applicants, Shoemaker said. Of those 44 respondents, nine met the minimum education and experience qualifications. In addition to holding a master’s degree and having five to eight years of human-resources or public-administration experience, the desired candidate had to have experience with union contract negotiations.
As it stands, Charlotte County is at an impasse with its two unions — the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
“Especially right now, since we’re in the middle of those contract negotiations, that’s a big part of what (the human resources director will) do,” Shoemaker said. “We’re not doing nearly as much hiring as we were doing years ago, so that part of the job is put on the back burner.”
Shoemaker said the county also was looking for someone who has training in organizational development. “That is important because now we want to keep those individuals that we have,” she said, noting the county currently employs about 1,027 employees. The salary range for the position is $72,550 on the low end, to the mid-range of $100,000, Shoemaker said.
County administration interviewed three of the nine eligible candidates and settled on Bacus, whose resume highlights her experience in contract negotiations and handling of legal issues such as harassment and equal employment opportunity complaints — issues with which the county also is grappling at the moment.
“I like to build relationships and try to resolve any kind of issues before they ever become grievances,” Bacus said in a phone interview with the Sun. “Certainly, over 10 years, you get good at that. And I have been able to say that in 10 years, I have had (fewer) grievances year after year after year. My track record shows that we’ve significantly decreased those.”
Bacus, who currently resides in Michigan, said she chose Charlotte County because, after years of vacationing in Florida, “it gets harder and harder to leave.”
“As I visited different places, and really looked at it from the perspective of living there, Charlotte County really seemed to be the best fit,” Bacus said.
If her appointment
is approved by commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, she will replace Stein, who resigned to accept a better job offer with Caterpillar starting Oct. 10, according to county Employee and Labor Relations Manager and Interim Human Resources Director
Alford Morris. Stein worked as director for about five years before leaving in July, he said.
“It was one of those things in your career that you just can’t pass up,” Morris said.