Summit County’s human resources director, credited with professionalizing operations, retires after 25 years
Accolades for Brian Bellamy poured in from staffers and elected officials
In 2009, when Summit County was transitioning to a new form of governance, the County Commission needed to find a county manager to shepherd it through the first year or so while elected officials looked for someone to take the position permanently.
Sally Elliott, a commissioner at the time, said that Human Resources Director Brian Bellamy was the obvious choice because of his leadership style and character.
“Brian was the ideal person to help us through that first year and help us build bridges with people who had voted against (changing to a council-manager form of government),” Elliott said in an interview with The Park Record. “He was very effective because he’s so kind and so gentle and so unassuming.”
Bellamy, credited with professionalizing many aspects of the county’s operations, retired recently after 25 years as the county’s human resources director.
The accolades came pouring in from staffers and elected officials during the December meeting when the county commemorated his retirement.
Council Chair Doug Clyde said he was “horrified” when he heard Bellamy was retiring; Councilor Roger Armstrong said he’d never met anyone quite like Bellamy, complimenting his humanism and genuine nature; County Attorney Margaret Olson said Bellamy is “the quintessential HR director against whom I measure any other;” and Community Development Director Pat Putt wondered who would make the Christmas pancakes after Bellamy retired.
“I think the bottom line is, Brian has a way about him in how he handles himself as an HR director that makes people comfortable,” County Manager Tom Fisher said in an interview.
Fisher, like many county employees, said he’s benefited from Bellamy’s counsel.
Bellamy said his first day working for Summit County was Oct. 30, 1995, and the shirt and tie he wore did not fit in well amid the more laid-back attire normally worn at the County Courthouse.
“In those days it was a lot different,” he said.
The county had about 200 employees then, he said; now, the county employs about 380 people including seasonal staffers.
Bellamy said one of his first tasks was to professionalize the county’s hiring procedures by routing all hiring through the human resources department, rather than leaving the decisions to department heads.
“We really had to upgrade the hiring practices, because a lot of times it was, ‘Oh hey, my kid needs a job, so let’s just hire the kid,’” Bellamy said. He also mandated that all potential employees fill out a job application, which didn’t exist for all jobs.
He acknowledged some employees were frustrated with the change, but when confronted, he could refer to state statute.
“I’m a firm believer that we all don’t have to agree with each other,” Bellamy said. “We can disagree but still work together.”
Summit County was one of the fastest growing areas in the state when he arrived, Bellamy said, and he advocated to pay employees more to attract the kind of talent necessary to oversee the rapid change.
Bellamy urged the county commissioners to no longer compare Summit County to Daggett or Morgan or Uinta counties, but instead compete for talent with the Wasatch Front communities that would routinely poach Summit County’s employees.
He said the commissioners supported the idea and he’s proud of the talent the county now attracts. But he added that the county’s rising housing costs are making it challenging to hire and retain staffers.
In addition to helping the county government transition from a commission to a council-manager model, Bellamy said he was particularly proud of initiatives he championed to provide paid parental leave and extend employment protections beyond gender to sexual preference, as well.
A proclamation commemorating Bellamy’s service lauded his role in extending benefits to domestic and LGBTQ partners and making Summit County one of the first in the nation to offer paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child.
Elliott remembered Bellamy’s deft touch and fair adjudication of a land-use dispute that arose while he was interim county manager, a position Bellamy said he had for 15 months until the county hired his full-time replacement, Bob Jasper.
“He handled that absolutely masterfully,” Elliott said. “… He was really the first highly trained professional manager (the county employed).”
For most, if not all, Summit County employees, Bellamy was one of the first people to welcome them and to explain certain technical elements of the job and its benefits.
Deputy County Manager Janna Young said Bellamy’s insistence that employees be able to maintain a work-life balance helped her decide to accept the position.
“If your kids have an assembly at school that day, you need to be there, because that’s the most important thing,” Young recalled Bellamy telling her.
Bellamy said there are two initiatives he wished he’d been able to accomplish while working for Summit County. One is a daycare for county employees’ children, which would reduce the burden on families to find child care and allow employees to bring their young children to work and visit them throughout the day.
The other is a health clinic for county employees, which would entail hiring a health care provider like a nurse or doctor and enable employees to avoid costly copays for relatively minor health issues.
Bellamy said he is grateful for the people he’s worked with, for the opportunity to do good work for a good cause and for the chance to offer employment to so many people.
He’s looking forward to retirement and the opportunity to travel once again, and to work on his garden. He thinks maybe, in a few years, he’ll find a job at a nice bookstore and put in a few hours each week.
“I’m one of the luckiest people in the world,” Bellamy said, reflecting on his career. “… I’m going to miss it very much.”
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