Bill Summary for H 1161 (2021)

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Summary date: 

May 31 2022

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 1161 (Local) Filed Tuesday, May 31, 2022
AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF DURHAM TO ESTABLISH A FIRE DEPARTMENT CIVIL SERVICE BOARD.
Intro. by Alston, Morey, Hawkins, Reives.

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Bill summary

Enacts a new section to the Charter of the City of Durham (city), Chapter VII, SL 1975-671, establishing the Fire Department Civil Services Board (board) within the City of Durham government. Grants the board authority to hear all fire department employee appeals from disciplinary action taken against the employee regarding violations of fire department or city policy. Directs the city manager to recommend funding for operational needs of the board in the annual budget for the city council to approve. Details board membership, including five members chosen by the city council to serve two-year terms. Provides for member qualifications, including residency requirements, expenses, vacancies, and appointment of the board's chair and secretary. Deems employees of the city and city council members disqualified. Requires members to complete training established by the city council. Provides further specified disqualifications for former city employees, persons who financially benefit from a business relationship with the city or have an immediate family member or spouse of an immediate family member who financially benefits in that manner, and persons who engage or benefit from any contractual work or employment with the city, with the duration of disqualifications provided.

Details meeting, notice, and recordkeeping requirements of the board. Requires the city manager to designate a city employee to serve as board liaison. Requires the board to notify the Director of Human Resources of actions, reports, or recommendations made by the board, and the Director is charged with notifying affected fire department employees. Provides protections for fire department employees to wear the employee's uniform to board meetings. 

Requires the board to hear all employee appeals filed within 10 days of the relevant disciplinary action, but only after the employee has exhausted all other administrative remedies of the city available, unless the action is a transfer taken against the employee's will, in which case the appeal is permitted without exhausting administrative remedies. Provides for hearing procedures, including record access and right to representation. Requires the board to render its decision within 10 days after the conclusion of the hearing, and authorizes the board to affirm, modify, or reverse the city's decision. Provides requirements regarding board decisions and requires immediate notification of the city clerk and the requesting member of the decision. Makes the city responsible for implementing the board's decision. 

Authorizes the board to designate independent legal counsel to advise or represent the board at the majority's discretion, at the expense of the city. Requires the board to establish a roster of attorneys for this purpose, subject to review and approval by the city attorney as to qualifications and fees. Requires the city attorney to serve as advisor to or attorney for the board when requested by the board in writing, signed by at least four board members. 

Prohibits a person about to be appointed for a fire department position from signing or executing a resignation in advance of their appointment. Prohibits taking any actions relevant to official rank and compensation of fire department employees, or promising or threatening to do so, for withholding or neglecting to make any contribution or service or thing of value for any political purpose.

Charges the board with supervising the execution of the new section and rules adopted thereunder, and charges fire department personnel with compliance and enforcement of the new section. Makes violation of the section or rules adopted thereunder grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal. Makes retaliatory actions or threats against an employee exercising rights under the section grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal. 

Includes a severability clause. 

Deems the section's provisions to supersede or repeal other conflicting provisions.