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Municipality of Kingston, PA
Luzerne County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Pursuant to Section 804 of the Charter, there is hereby established a merit personnel system which shall govern the recruitment, hiring, promotion, suspension and discharge of municipal employees and which shall also provide for and regulate other rights, terms and conditions of municipal employment.
All municipal appointments and promotions shall be made without regard to sex, race, religion or political affiliation and shall be based on merit and fitness.
The following positions shall be exempt from the provisions of the merit system:
A. 
Elected officials.
B. 
Employees appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, including the Solicitor, the Municipal Administrator, and members of boards, commissions and authorities.
C. 
Department heads.
D. 
Temporary employees, including those hired through state/federal programs.
The Mayor shall be responsible for the overall administration of the merit system, and the Administrator shall be responsible for its day-to-day operation.
A. 
It shall be the responsibility of the Administrator to ensure that the spirit and intent of the merit system is met, and, further, he shall:
(1) 
Encourage and exercise leadership in the development of effective personnel administration within the several departments in the municipality, and make available the facilities to meet this end.
(2) 
Advise the Mayor on manpower utilization.
(3) 
Foster and develop programs for the improvement of employee effectiveness, including training, safety, health, counseling and welfare.
(4) 
Investigate from time to time the operation and effect of this merit system and of the policies made thereunder and report his findings and recommendations to the Mayor.
(5) 
Establish and maintain records of all employees in the municipality, in which there shall be set forth as to each employee, the class, title, pay or status and other relevant data.
(6) 
Make an annual report to the Mayor regarding the work of the departments and their manpower utilization and needs.
(7) 
Apply and carry out the provisions of this system and the policies thereunder, and perform any other lawful acts which may be necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes and provisions of this merit system.
B. 
On recommendation of the Mayor, the Administrator shall issue personnel policies for the municipality. Adequate public notice shall be given to all interested parties of proposed changes or additions to the personnel policies prior to the time they are to take effect. The policies shall provide for:
(1) 
The preparation, maintenance and revision of a position classification plan for all positions in the career service, based upon similarity of duties performed and responsibilities assumed, so that the same qualifications may reasonably be required for, and the same schedule of pay may be equitably applied to, all positions in the same class.
(2) 
The annual submission of a pay plan to the Mayor.
(3) 
Recruitment of capable persons and for administering fair, open evaluations to determine the relative fitness of applicants for positions of employment.
(4) 
The certification to the Mayor of the names of persons who are categorized as qualified to fill a vacancy.
(5) 
The establishment and maintenance of eligible lists for appointment and promotion, upon which lists shall be placed the names of successful applicants.
(6) 
Promotions which shall give appropriate consideration to the applicant's qualifications, record of performance, and ability.
(7) 
A period of employee probation of six (6) months, upon appointment or promotion, prior to permanent appointment.
(8) 
Emergency employment for not more than ninety (90) days with the consent of the Administrator and for provisional employment without open evaluation when there is no appropriate eligible list available. No such provisional employment shall continue longer than six (6) months, nor shall successive provisional appointments be allowed except during the first year after the effective date of the Charter.
(9) 
Keeping records of performance of all employees in the career service, which performance records shall be considered in determining salary increments or increases for meritorious services, promotions, layoffs because of lack of funds or work, reinstatement, demotions, discharges and transfers.
(10) 
Layoffs by reason of lack of funds or work, or abolition of a position, or material change in duties or organization, and for reemployment of employees so laid off.
(11) 
Establishment of a plan for resolving employee grievances and complaints.
(12) 
The establishment of disciplinary measures, such as suspension, demotion in rank or grade, or discharge. Such measures shall provide for presentation of charges, hearing rights and appeals for all permanent employees in the career service.
(13) 
Establishing hours of work, holidays, vacation, sick benefits and attendance regulations in various classes of positions in the career service, and all other conditions of employment.
(14) 
Establishing and publicizing fringe benefits, such as insurance programs, retirement and leave policies.
(15) 
Such other policies and administrative regulations not inconsistent with the code, as may be proper and necessary for its enforcement.
C. 
The Administrator or his authorized agent shall be responsible for certification of the payroll vouchers that the persons named therein have been appointed and employed in accordance with the provision of this code and the policies thereunder. No municipal disbursing or auditing officer shall make or approve or take any part in making or approving any payment for personal service to any person holding a position in the municipal service, unless said payroll voucher or account of such pay bears the certification of the Administrator of his authorized agent.
[Amended 8-22-1988]
A. 
It shall be the responsibility of the Municipal Administrator to operate and maintain the recruitment and promotional system. This system shall be generally governed by merit principles, which include the hiring and promoting of personnel based upon qualifications with the open consideration of all candidates, equal pay for equal work, training for career advancement, retention based upon performance and equal employment opportunity with nondiscrimination with respect to municipal employment because of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. The procedures to be followed are:
(1) 
The department head notifies the Administrator, in writing, that a vacancy exists within his department. This notice shall include a description of the position to be filled.
(2) 
If a list of eligible candidates exists from a previous recruitment/promotional process and that list is less than twelve (12) months old, computed from the date on which the Administrator certifies the list, then the Administrator will cause that list to be submitted to the Mayor with the department head's request and with any other recommendations or comments. The Mayor can select from any of those remaining on that list. If the Mayor chooses to not select from the existing list and desires to fill the vacancy(ies) or if a valid list does not exist, the Administrator shall advertise the position in a local newspaper(s) of general circulation for a period of two (2) weeks. This advertisement shall appear at least three (3) times during this two-week period. He shall also cause such vacancy to be posted prominently in all departments so that current employees can apply for any vacancy.
(3) 
At the end of this two-week period, a list of all applicants will be prepared by the office of the Administrator, with all applicants thereby notified of date(s) of written testing, if applicable. Written testing shall be conducted if valid standardized examinations are available for the position to be filled. The administration of written examinations shall be conducted under the supervision of the Municipal Administrator or his designee. Examinations will be conducted in a proctored environment and conducted as dictated by the providing agency. Examinees receiving scores among the top ten (10), plus ties, shall be listed for oral interview. This list will be prepared and distributed to the Mayor and department head. When listing the applicants, a summary of their pertinent information shall be provided. Examination scores are for the purpose of determining the top ten (10) applicants, plus ties, and will not be further used in the recruitment process. Those not among the top ten (10), plus ties, shall be permitted to review their test, if permitted by the providing agency. In any case, nonselectees will be provided if they so request, their relative position among all applicants.
(4) 
When written testing is not practical due to the nonavailability of appropriate examinations, all qualified applicants shall be orally interviewed. Qualification of individuals shall be determined based upon an examination for their application relative to the requisite qualifications of the vacant position. Applicants not selected for interview, based upon these standards, who desire to appeal for an interview, can apply to the Administrator for reconsideration. If still not selected, they may appeal to the Mayor for final consideration.
(5) 
The Administrator and department head shall interview all finalists, using interview procedures as developed by the Administrator. The President of Council may elect to observe the interviews or he may designate another member of Council to observe in his place. These procedures shall ensure equal treatment of all applicants. Questions asked of each interviewee shall be reviewed by the Municipal Solicitor to ensure compliance with applicable legislation and case law. The interview shall consist of a standard list of validated questions, and the same questions shall be asked of each candidate. After completing each interview, the candidate shall be scored by each interviewer independently. In evaluating a candidate's merit and fitness, the interviewers shall consider those factors and qualities necessary for the particular position and shall use a grading sheet, as prepared by the Administrator.
(6) 
The average of the scores obtained by each of the interviewers will determine the relative placement of the interviewees. The top five (5) candidates, plus ties, shall be given a physical examination by a physician appointed by the municipality. Prior to that physical examination, each candidate shall sign a waiver permitting the municipality to direct such tests and examinations as it deems necessary. Failure to sign such waiver will cause elimination from the recruitment/promotional process and elevation of the next ranked applicant to ensure a minimum of five (5) final candidates. Failure of the physical exam or any of its tests and examinations will cause elimination from the recruitment/promotional process and elevation of the next ranked applicant to ensure a minimum of five (5) remaining final candidates.
(7) 
Following successful completion of the physical examination, the top four (4) candidates shall be subject to physical fitness evaluation, if applicable, to be conducted under the supervision of the Municipal Administrator or his designee. This physical fitness evaluation shall provide for a reasonable evaluation of the applicant's physical abilities in relation to the position. Each applicant will sign a waiver permitting this evaluation and holding the municipality harmless or be eliminated from the hiring process and permitting elevation of the next ranked applicant to ensure a minimum of five (5) remaining final candidates.
(8) 
The Administrator shall prepare a final certified list of the top five (5) or remaining candidates. The date of certification shall be no longer than five (5) working days following the completion of the above hiring process nor shall the total process exceed sixty (60) days from the date of initial advertisement. This list will then be valid for twelve (12) months from certification.
(9) 
The Mayor shall make his appointment from the list of the top five (5) or remaining candidates, as determined by the previous subsections. The Mayor may, at his discretion, not select from the list. In this instance, the list becomes void, and the Administrator will reinitiate the hiring/recruitment process, if the Mayor still desires to fill the vacancy.
(10) 
The Mayor shall notify Municipal Council within ten (10) days of making any municipal appointment.
(11) 
When a valid list of eligible candidates does not exist and when, in the opinion of the Mayor, the need exists to immediately fill a vacancy, the Mayor may appoint a provisional employee to the vacancy. Such employment shall continue for no more than ninety (90) days or until a certified eligibles' list is available. A person can be appointed only once as a provisional appointee, and successive such appointments shall not be allowed.
(12) 
Should the need arise for specialized or seasonal employment or emergency employment, the Mayor is authorized to make such appointments for a period not to exceed ninety (90) working days in any one (1) calendar year.
B. 
Equal employment policy and practices.
[Added 1-7-1991 by Ord. No. 1990-32]
(1) 
Equal employment policy.
(a) 
It is the policy of the Municipality of Kingston to provide fair and equal employment opportunities to all employees and to all applicants for employment. Accordingly, the Municipality of Kingston will continue to recruit, select and hire applicants for employment on the basis of the individual's ability to do the work and without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap. Moreover, the Municipality of Kingston will continue to treat all employees equitably and without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap in every respect of employment, including but not limited to the following: promotion or demotion, transfer, layoff, compensation, evaluation, discipline, training and termination.
(b) 
This Affirmative Action Program formalizes practices long in effect to actively recruit, employ and promote at all levels of responsibility qualified individuals who might be subject to discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap.
(c) 
The Municipality of Kingston adopts this program to ensure compliance with the letter and the spirit of state and federal laws pertaining to equal employment opportunities in order that it might achieve genuine equal employment opportunity for all qualified persons.
(2) 
Equal employment practices. The Municipality of Kingston has voluntarily developed this Affirmative Action Program to be incorporated into all aspects of the existing personnel program. The Municipality of Kingston will:
(a) 
Employ qualified applicants available from the labor market without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap.
(b) 
Continue existing hiring practices and programs that will afford all segments of the population equal opportunities in employment and revise any that fail to do the same.
(c) 
Assure that all personnel policies, including recruitment, selection of applicants, compensation, training, promotions, layoffs and terminations, are administered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap.
(d) 
Evaluate the current employment program to identify areas in need of updating, amending or improving.
(3) 
Responsibilities for implementation.
(a) 
Fair and equal treatment of fellow employees without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or physical handicap is the duty and responsibility of every municipal employee.
(b) 
Involvement in the Affirmative Action Program will be a part of the duties of each of the department heads, supervisors and other designated management employees. Management employees are charged with the responsibility of implementing equal employment opportunity policies in the following ways:
[1] 
Assisting in the establishment of objectives to remedy any equal employment opportunity problems where they exist.
[2] 
Reviewing all selections, transfers and promotions of employees under their supervision to ensure that no discrimination is involved.
[3] 
Ensuring that minority and female employees, as well as all other employees, are encouraged to participate in all departmental and municipally sponsored educational and social activities.
[4] 
Ensuring that all management employees understand that their work performance is evaluated on the basis of fair and equal treatment of all employees under their supervision, as well as other criteria.
(c) 
The overall supervision of the municipality's Affirmative Action Program is the responsibility of the Municipal Administrator, who shall ensure the accomplishment of the major objectives of the program and report the progress of the program to the Mayor at least annually. In the accomplishment of the above, the Municipal Administrator or his/her designee shall:
[1] 
Determine the progress of the departments in reaching the objectives of the Program.
[2] 
Monitor the effectiveness of the Program.
[3] 
Keep informed of current legal requirements concerning equal employment opportunity.
[4] 
Review all selection, promotion and training procedures to be certain that no discrimination is involved.
[5] 
Review all personnel policies to identify actual and possible equal employment opportunity problem areas.
(4) 
Dissemination of Affirmative Action Program.
(a) 
Internal dissemination. This Program and personnel policy will be distributed to all department heads and supervisors to inform them of the intent of the Affirmative Action Program and to impress upon them that their individual support and enforcement of these policies is essential. Staff meetings pertaining to personnel policies or practices will communicate the requirements of this program.
(b) 
External dissemination.
[1] 
All personnel advertising will include a statement that the Municipality of Kingston is an equal opportunity employer.
[2] 
Advertisement for bids involving the use of Community Development Block Grant or Entitlement Funding shall bear a notation that the Municipality of Kingston is an equal opportunity employer.
[3] 
Application for employment forms, when next revised, will contain a statement that the Municipality of Kingston is an equal opportunity employer.
[Amended 8-22-1988]
A. 
The administration of this section is the responsibility of the Municipal Administrator. All disciplinary action shall require his prior review before imposition with the exception of those cases of gross insubordination requiring immediate action by the department head. In those cases, the department head may act immediately at his own discretion. However, he must notify the Administrator as soon as possible of that disciplinary action. The Administrator shall then review the employee's actions in accordance with the provisions of this section.
B. 
The municipality shall take no disciplinary action against an employee without just cause. The following criteria shall be used to determine whether just cause exists:
(1) 
The employee had prior knowledge or warning of the possible consequences of the action for which discipline is being considered.
(2) 
If a violation of work rules or standard operating procedure is to be reason for disciplinary action against an employee, then those work rules shall be reasonably related to the orderly, efficient and safe operation of municipal business.
(3) 
The municipality shall make a reasonable effort to discover whether a rule has been violated before taking disciplinary action.
(4) 
The investigation of an alleged rule(s) infraction(s) shall be carried out in a fair and objective manner.
(5) 
Disciplinary action shall not be taken without substantial proof that the employee sought to be disciplined committed the infraction.
C. 
The type of discipline shall normally be limited to the following actions: oral and written reprimands; suspensions without pay; demotions; and dismissals. Oral reprimands shall be properly documented and filed in the employee's personnel records. Oral and written reprimands shall require the review and recommendations of the Municipal Administrator and the Mayor. Suspensions, demotions and dismissals shall require the review and recommendations of the Municipal Solicitor and final approval of the Mayor and will be imposed only after that employee has been given the opportunity to explain his actions.
D. 
Offenses.
[Amended 7-1-1991 by Ord. No. 1991-16]
(1) 
Should the actions of an employee violate the provisions of Exhibit A incorporated herein by reference,[1] the employee's department head shall give prompt notice of such violation to the Municipal Administrator, and disciplinary action, as listed in Subsection C, shall be imposed.
[1]
Editor's Note: Exhibit A is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(2) 
In imposing discipline, initial Category I offenses shall result in oral or written reprimand. Initial Category II offenses shall result in oral or written reprimand or suspension without pay for such period of time as the Municipal Administrator deems necessary to impress upon the employee the seriousness of the transgression. Initial Category III offenses will result in any form of discipline listed in Subsection C, but generally shall result in dismissal in the absence of mitigating circumstances.
(3) 
Subsequent Category I, II or III offenses occurring within a twenty-four-month period shall result in suspension without pay for such period of time as the Municipal Administrator deems necessary to impress upon the employee the seriousness of the repetitive misconduct or shall result in dismissal.
E. 
Records of disciplinary actions shall be kept in the employee's personnel file. The employee shall be provided a copy of all such records. Reprimands shall be removed from the file and destroyed after two (2) years if there are no recurrences of similar incidents. Reprimands may be removed prior to the expiration of two (2) years if, in the opinion of the person issuing the reprimand and with the concurrence of the Administrator, it has served its purpose.
F. 
Standard operating procedure shall be developed and maintained by the Administrator and shall apply to all employees.[2] Work rules shall be developed and maintained by each department head, who shall ensure that they are updated as necessary. Standard operating procedure and work rules shall be posted prominently and permanently. Specific disciplinary actions are not prescribed for violations of each procedure and/or rule. Actions shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, using the above-listed criteria.
[2]
Editor's Note: See Exhibit A, which is included as an attachment to this chapter.
G. 
Charges of criminal conduct.
(1) 
When an employee is formally charged with criminal conduct, the Administrator shall be immediately notified, in writing, by the department head, and a preliminary determination shall be made to either:
(a) 
Allow the employee to continue to perform duties pending the outcome of the investigation and final determination;
(b) 
Reassign the employee to other, less sensitive duties pending the outcome of the investigation and final determination; or
(c) 
Suspend the employee without pay pending the outcome of the investigation and final determination.
(2) 
In making the preliminary determination, the following factors shall be considered:
(a) 
The employee's explanation, if available.
(b) 
The extent to which allowing the employee to continue in his position would be detrimental to the physical well-being of the employee, his fellow workers or other persons.
(c) 
The nature of the employee's duties, including the amount of discretion exercised as part of those duties.
(d) 
The nature, weight, basis and source of the accusations against the employee.
(e) 
The relationship of the accusations, if proven, to the employee's duties.
(f) 
The extent to which the employee must deal with the public.
(g) 
The extent to which the accusations of wrongdoing may affect the public's trust and confidence in the employee and municipal government.
(h) 
The hardship which could result to the employee from a suspension or reassignment.
H. 
Following the preliminary determination, the Administrator shall conduct an investigation to determine whether there is sufficient reason for disciplinary action. Although this investigation shall be more thorough than the preliminary determination, it shall not be intended to establish the employee's guilt or innocence of the formal charge. The disciplinary action decided upon shall take into account the same factors used in making the preliminary determination and will not be dependent upon the legal outcome of the charges. The Administrator may agree as part of the decision to review the disciplinary action after legal charges have been decided.
I. 
The Municipal Administrator, in addition to notifying the Mayor of any action to discipline a municipal employee, shall also give notice in writing to the Councilman so designated by the governing body to observe the recruitment and promotion procedures employed by the administration. It shall be clearly understood that said notification shall be for informational purposes only. Said notice shall be forwarded to the Town Council's designee within twenty-four (24) hours of the issuance of a disciplinary action.
[Added 7-1-1991 by Ord. No. 1991-16]
[Added 8-22-1988]
A file of all employee records shall be maintained by the Administrator with input from the department heads, and open access shall be provided to the Mayor, Administrator and department heads. Employees shall be granted access to their employment records during regular business hours and upon presenting a written request for access to the Administrator.
[Added 8-22-1988]
A. 
The purpose of the grievance procedure shall be to settle all grievances between employees and the municipality as quickly as possible so as to ensure efficiency and promote employee morale.
B. 
Should any employee or group of employees feel aggrieved as a result of any condition arising out of the employee/employer relationship, including the claim of unjust discrimination on any matter or condition affecting health and safety, adjustment shall be sought as follows by the employee:
(1) 
First step.
(a) 
The matter shall first be discussed orally with the employee's Grievance Committee within ten (10) days of the occurrence giving rise to the grievance. However, the Grievance Committee shall not act until said grievance is submitted in writing.
(b) 
The Grievance Committee shall, for reasons of convenience, consist of the same members of the collective bargaining group's negotiating committee or, in the instance of those employees not members of a collective bargaining group, then the Grievance Committee shall be composed of any three (3) of their members so elected by that body as a whole.
(c) 
Each grievance shall not be acted upon except by a majority vote of the Grievance Committee.
(d) 
The Grievance Committee shall also consist of one (1) alternate, who is to be elected by the members of the particular bargaining group or, in the instance of those employees not members of a collective bargaining group, then elected by that body as a whole. This alternate will serve when a regular member of the Grievance Committee is absent or not available.
(e) 
If such discussion does not resolve the grievance it may be processed to the next step.
(2) 
Second step.
(a) 
Within five (5) days, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays, from receiving a final answer from the employee's Grievance Committee, the grievance shall be presented, in writing, to the department head, who shall arrange for such meeting and make such investigations as are necessary.
(b) 
The department head must give his answer, in writing, within five (5) days, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays, of the receipt of the grievance. If his answer does not resolve the grievance, it may be processed to the next step.
(3) 
Third step.
(a) 
Within five (5) days, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays, of the transmittal of the written answer by the department head, either party may submit the grievance to the municipality.
(b) 
If the municipality fails to amicably resolve said grievance within ten (10) days of the time it is presented to the municipality, the matter may be submitted to arbitration by either party.
(4) 
Fourth step.
(a) 
Either party may then request the American Arbitration Association to submit a list of arbitrators, and the matter shall be handled in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.
(b) 
The decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding. Any expenses incidental to the arbitration shall be borne equally by the parties.
[Added 8-3-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-12]
A. 
Purpose.
(1) 
The purpose of this Board shall be to review all disciplinary actions brought forth against an officer by the Chief of Police or, in his absence, the Assistant Chief of Police or Sergeant in Charge.
(2) 
All disciplinary actions taken by the disciplinary authority shall be made in accordance with Ord. No. 1991-16[1] and all applicable policy and procedure of the Kingston Municipal Police Department.
[1]
Editor's Note: See § 3-42D and I and Exhibit A, which is included as an attachment to this chapter.
B. 
Appeals.
(1) 
When imposing a discipline upon an officer, the disciplinary authority shall notify the officer of the charges against him in writing. The officer shall choose to accept such discipline or he may choose, within twenty-four (24) hours from receipt of notification thereof, to have his alleged infraction of procedure and subsequent discipline adjudicated before the Departmental Review Board.
(2) 
The Chief of Police, Assistant Chief or Sergeant in Charge may suspend an officer immediately should he report for duty unfit or in an intoxicated manner. Nothing, however, shall preclude the officer's right to an appeal from an immediate suspension. Upon receipt of notice from the officer, the disciplinary authority shall immediately notify the Municipal Administrator, as Director of Personnel, to so notify the Departmental Review Board to convene a hearing on the matter of the officer's protest. The Departmental Review Board shall then convene a hearing within seven (7) days from receipt of notification by the Municipal Administrator.
(3) 
Notification to all parties shall be performed by United States postal mail, return receipt requested.
C. 
Members of the Board.
(1) 
The Departmental Review Board shall be comprised of three (3) individuals, all of whom must be twenty-one (21) years of age and residents of the municipality.
(2) 
Appointment to the Review Board shall be performed by the Mayor in accordance with his powers under the Home Rule Charter. Term of each appointment shall be for a three-year period.
(3) 
In nominating members for consideration by the Mayor, the following shall prevail:
(a) 
One (1) member shall be selected by the Administration.
(b) 
One (1) member shall be selected by the Kingston Municipal Police Officer's Association.
(c) 
One (1) member shall be selected by the members of Town Council.
D. 
Powers and duties.
(1) 
The powers and duties of the Departmental Review Board shall be limited to the review of the infraction of departmental policy and the imposition of discipline in accordance with the provisions of Ord. No. 1991-16[2] and Article IX of this chapter.
[2]
Editor's Note: See § 3-42D and I and Exhibit A, which is included as an attachment to this chapter.
(2) 
In making its review, the Review Board shall have the power to subpoena the documents and records and to call witnesses.
(3) 
The Departmental Review Board may modify, suspend, or affirm any action relative to discipline as administered by the Chief of Police, the Assistant Chief of Police or Sergeant in Charge (the disciplinary authority).
E. 
All decisions of the Departmental Review Board shall be in written form and shall be submitted to all parties, including the Mayor and Municipal Administrator, within twenty-four (24) hours from final adjudication.
F. 
Nothing herein ordained shall prevent, circumvent or be deemed to alter any of the grievance procedures contained within the collective bargaining agreement between the Kingston Municipal Police Officer's Association and the municipality.