Essex County Board of Supervisors
The price to take a state civil service exam may soon go up.
Members of the Essex County Personnel Committee talked about increasing the amount a person would pay to take the state exam required for those who apply to be employed by the county.
Personnel Director Monica Feeley said the county charges $15 for the three exams it offers: continuous recruitment, non-uniformed and uniformed. From those, the state takes a $5 cut for the first 20 continuous recruitment exams ($3 per exam after that), $7.50 for non-uniformed exams and $12.50 for uniformed exams.
Feeley said she would recommend no increase to the continuous recruitment exams, while increasing non-uniformed exams to $20 and uniformed exams to $25. The county could see an additional $1,400 in revenue.
With the increase, Feeley said she had a concern that fewer people would take the exams, a sentiment echoed by Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava.
“Personally, for the little bit of revenue that you are going to see, I would not want to increase those rates,” Scozzafava said. “I do not think that for the difference that you are going to pick up in revenue, you may turn some away.”
Lewis Supervisor David Blades disagreed.
“Even though it is a small amount, it is still $1,000 in revenue and I see no reason why we should say nah, this is not a good idea,” Blades said.
“An increase of $5 is not going to make or break most people and it will give them an opportunity to say to themselves if they are really committed to taking this test,” Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey added.
Recently, Feeley said she has seen a drop in the number of people taking the continuous recruitment exam.
“With the hiring freeze, there is very little need for the continuous recruitment exams because we have very little need for those positions right now,” Feeley said.
However, she added a recent exam for corrections officers had 70 candidates take the test.
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley said public perception may play a role in the declining numbers.
“I believe that there is a perception that, one, what is the point in taking the exam if there are no openings and, two, why bother taking the exam and if I score well, someone’s relative is going to get the job,” Bartley said. “We have to give people some hope that they are going to get the job.”
“They have to go through the process and score in the top three in order to be eligible for the job,” Feeley replied. “Then it is up to each department head to interview each candidate and figure out which is the best fit for the office.”
County Manager Dan Palmer added that while some people would fare well in the test, they would come to the interviews unprepared.
“When you sit down and have the interview with them, they interview terribly,” Palmer said. “Ultimately, people do not get hired most of the time because they interview poorly.”
Following discussion, no resolution was brought to the floor. Blades said that the matter would continue to be discussed as part of the budget sub-committee meetings.