PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners are considering approving an interlocal agreement with Jefferson Communications following a revision of an agreement between the two agencies to include additional services.
A draft of the agreement had been drawn up for the commissioners to approve during their Tuesday meeting, but staff members said they want to add more to the pact.
Jefferson PUD has been helping Jefferson Communications (JeffCom) with Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
“JeffCom uses it differently than the PUD does, but it’s basically a system that creates and stores maps and makes them accessible to us,” PUD General Manager Kevin Streett said.
JeffCom had to meet some tight state deadlines and did not have the expertise to meet those deadlines, so it asked the PUD for help, he said.
“This interlocal agreement was meant to formalize that because, moving forward, they would like to still have us help with GIS work. There are a couple of other services that JeffCom would possibly want from us, too,” Streett said.
One example he provided was sharing human resources services.
“JeffCom does not have its own HR person, so one of the things they’re kicking around is, does it make sense to maybe have access to our HR person?” Streett said.
JeffCom has about 17 employees. The PUD has nearly 60.
“Conceptually, the idea of sharing services with JeffCom, I think, is a very good idea, but, in particular, I have concerns,” PUD Commissioner Ken Collins said. “We have one HR person, and my concern specifically is whether that would create potential situations of overload.”
Human Resource Director Melanie Patterson said she believes she could manage the potential additional workload.
“This role is my first role as an HR department of one,” she said. “I have been in HR departments that have multiple staff members, and we have supported 3,000 employees or 150 employees.
“My understanding is that JeffCom has sort of come up with a list of what they need help within HR, and that will help us to determine if I do have the bandwidth to help with them, and I am happy to help.”
The trade-off for the PUD in this agreement could be having access to employees to respond to after-hours calls among other services, Streett said.
“We are also going to put in place where JeffCom, moving forward, may be able to support the PUD in certain areas where it would make sense for us to have JeffCom help us,” Streett said.
“This is one place where we have come so far with JeffCom and other local government agencies, our customers, and if it works and makes sense to share some people, I think we ought to do it,” Streett added.