Worker turnover impairing city services
City officials are hoping pay raises will reduce a staffing shortage that is causing city services to suffer.High turnover is impacting everything from operating the Community Center to maintaining parks to running the city’s electric system.The city has lost 50 full-time employees in 2005/2006, or about a third of its work force. Twenty-two already have quit this year, mostly for salary reasons despite the city’s adoption of higher pay rates last year, said Sebrina Hoffmeister, the city’s human resources director.When part-time and seasonal positions are included in the count, the city has lost more than 200 people in the last 12 months, city manager Jeff Hecksel said.The city attorney position has been vacant since April, despite paying more than $100,000 per year, and a building inspector post has been open since March.Seasonal park openings have been hard to fill despite hourly pay being raised to $12.44 per hour. The city also has faced a challenge filling part-time positions at the Community Center, and city manager Jeff Hecksel said the city has experienced almost 100 percent turnover in coordinators at the center.The staffing shortage has affected things such as hours of operation there. Mayor Bruce Christensen said he has received a number of complaints about the center as a result of the difficulty in fully staffing it.The city is working to address its employee shortage by continuing to revise the range of pay for various positions outlined in its salary plan. City Council on Thursday adopted a revised 2006 plan to meet some immediate needs for higher pay, such as in the electric department, and it also adopted a new plan for 2007.The city also budgets for pay raises of up to 4 percent, based on merit. Council may consider approving an additional $73,000 in spending to allow raises of up to 5 percent.”We’re dealing with a tough employee market and we’ve got to compete,” council member Kris Chadwick said Thursday.Council member Chris McGovern said it’s important to note that the city isn’t facing a problem of significantly greater proportions than other area employers face.An example is Mountain Valley Developmental Services, where Christensen serves as director.”We’re down huge numbers right now and it’s a constant struggle,” he said.Glenwood Springs employers are confronting increased competition for workers from sources such as the numerous new retailers and restaurants that have opened up at Glenwood Meadows, and the high-paying natural gas industry in western Garfield County.Council member Joe O’Donnell said the city’s fire and police forces also see natural turnover because they serve as training grounds for bigger departments.Christensen said employers such as the city are better off retaining employees than having to recruit them.Housing also is an issue for city employees. Earlier this summer, City Council considered providing some kind of housing stipend to Hecksel, its highest-paid employee, due to high housing prices. It decided against the idea following public criticism. Instead, he received a raise, bringing his pay to $121,000.Some city employees near the bottom of the pay scale, such as water/wastewater utility workers, can earn from about $26,000 to $33,000 per year, but their maximum will rise to $36,336 next year.Level 1 police officers and building inspectors now can earn from about $40,000 to $50,000. Their maximum pay will increase to $55,290 next year.The salary range for the highest-paying department head positions, fire chief and community development director, is now about $71,000 to $91,000. Next year the maximum pay for these jobs, held by Mike Piper and Andrew McGregor, respectively, will rise to $100,000.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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