Polk County hires first human resource officer

Published 10:00 pm Monday, April 13, 2015

Polk County government has hired a new employee specifically to handle human resources for the first time.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved the new position in January by a 4-1 vote and the county manager hired Patti Wagner on March 25. The county received 37 applications after advertising the position through several outlets, including in local newspapers, on the county’s website, on the N.C. Association of County Commissioners website, the N.C. League of Municipalities website, with the N.C. School of Government as well as various other online job vacancy websites.

Wagner has worked with community colleges throughout western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina over the past 10 years providing consultative support to local businesses, creating and delivering customized training, human resource improvement and assistance in strategic planning.

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Wagner holds a presidential/key executive MBA from Pepperdine University and holds various other certifications.

Wagner worked in the corporate realm as a human resource executive for more than 20 years then founded her own company, Upward Journey in 1997 where she specialized in working with senior leaders and their teams to create transformational organizations.

With her company, Wagner provided solution-based services that included human resource development, executive coaching, customized leadership development programs, specialized recruitment and staffing and business consulting emphasizing integrated strategic human resource support. Wagner has been a western North Carolina resident since 2001.

Commissioners agreed to a salary range of between $41,856-$68,587 for the new position. Commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against the position, saying he did not see a compelling need at this time and disagreed with the position being funded out of fund balance instead of during new budget year discussions.

Other commissioners said a human resource officer should have been hired last year. Commissioner Michael Gage said he thinks it will save the county money in the long run and be good for employees. Commissioner Shane Bradley said he thinks it’s beneficial for employees to have one person to go to for those needs. And commissioner Tom Pack said when county manager Marche Pittman began giving commissioners daily reports it brought to light how much time he was spending on personnel issues. Pack said he thinks Polk needs someone who specializes in personnel and with Obamacare, a human resource officer can help give employees the best benefits.

Most recently, county manager Pittman handled the duties of human resource officer and prior to Pittman, the position has been handled through the finance office and prior to that the county clerk/assistant to the manager position.

Polk County government had 161 full-time and 50 part-time employees as of January.