Westmoreland commissioners OK new contract with Felice Associates
Westmoreland County commissioners Thursday approved a new contract with Felice Associates to pay the private consulting firm $84,000 this year to oversee labor relations and union negotiations.
The move came immediately after commissioners voted to formally terminate its existing contract with the same firm to oversee all county's human resources functions, which it has done since early 2014.
Commissioners last month notified the company it would end the contract it renewed in January to pay $191,000. Under terms of that contract, Felice Associates assigned one staffer to work full-time at the courthouse to serve as the county's human resources director, as well as oversee all labor-related issues.
While all three commissioners voted to end the original contract with Felice, only Commissioners Gina Cerilli and Charles Anderson approved the new deal with the company.
“This is what we need right now,” Anderson said.
Cerilli praised Felice's stewardship of the human resources office, saying the company worked to save the county more than $1.5 million over four years.
“The change we made had nothing to do with (how it ran) the human resources office,” Cerilli said.
Felice's firm was paid $903,000 since 2014.
Commissioners last month replaced the company with an in-house human resources director, the model the county used to run the department prior to 2014. Officials promoted Amanda Bernard, who worked as the human resources director at Westmoreland Manor, to run the department at an annual salary of $69,000.
Commissioner Ted Kopas, who lobbied against hiring Felice four years ago, voted against the new contract on Thursday.
“We had the opportunity to reform county government and instead it's the same cast of characters getting a raise through a no-bid contract,” Kopas said.
Felice's new contract with the county calls for it be paid $7,000 per month to consult on labor relations and negotiations with unions and to support the county's human resources department.
The agreement carries an automatic renewal for 2019 that will pay Felice $108,000 for the same services.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.