Farmington city manager seeks 'clean and clear' nepotism rules

Jan 6 2012 - 8:03pm

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FARMINGTON -- City Manager Dave Millheim never wants to hear the claim that nepotism played a role in who works for the city.

During a recent work session, Millheim initiated discussion on nepotism with city council members and department heads, saying he hoped to establish "clean and clear" rules on the issue to avoid any potential pitfalls.

Millheim said the issue was not being driven by any current problem with the matter. However, there are past instances in which city officials may have been sloppy on details in how they handled part-time employees, he added.

"We lead by example," Millheim said. "I don't want to reinvent the wheel. We just want clean guidelines."

He generalized some nepotism situations. They include the wife of a council member working as a crossing guard, the son of a councilman working as a seasonal lifeguard and a department head whose son worked part-time for a different department. Millheim noted none of them violated any existing rules or parameters.

In a handout to the council, Millheim outlined three options. The first included leaving current rules alone and addressing all situations on a case by case basis. The second option was to impose a more restrictive and detailed policy stating no council members, city manager, department head or supervisors may have immediate relatives working within the same department or supervisory chain.

The third option was to tweak existing rules including:

* Implementing a provision limiting any immediate family member of a full-time employee from working in the same department or a supervisory chain.

* Family members may work in a seasonal or part-time position, as long as they do not work in the same department.

Millheim said he is recommending option three, should city officials move forward with the issue.

Councilman Jim Young said nepotism can become a problem in a small community.

"My experience is that when officials feel pressured to hire someone, employees think those people get preferential treatment," Young said.

Extensive council review of the issue was limited, due to a short schedule for the work session.

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