Amid employee wage concerns, county commissioners tried Nov. 16 to get road and bridge workers to warm up to them by issuing an allowance to purchase winter work gear.
More than a dozen county road and bridge workers met with commissioners at 7:30 a.m. to discuss how their jobs were going, particularly with change in supervision.
Commissioner Randy Dallke explained that commissioners wanted worker’s input because they were a big part of representing the county.
“You guys sell us, grader operators sell us,” Dallke said, “but we also catch hell, too. That’s what it’s all about; you guys are our face.”
“We’ve got to know what you’re thinking,” chairman Dan Holub said.
One issue discussed was a need for warmer coats and better boots. Road and Bridge worker Brett Haws said that other places he had worked at offered an allowance for proper winter gear.
“You’re going to want steel-toed boots and big heavy coats,” Haws said, “especially if you’re going to be out in the wind and cold all day, and that stuff wears out pretty quick.”
After discussing it with road and bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm, commissioners approved a $100 allowance for winter equipment for county workers who spend more than 50 percent of their time outside.
Haws also asked commissioners how pay levels for road and bridge personnel were determined. He said he had heard from previous supervisor Randy Crawford that other counties of similar size paid significantly more.
“I know (Crawford) did fight tooth and nail for us, as far as I was concerned, to try to make things good for us and try to look out for us and make things right for us as far as pay comes,” Haws said.
Clerk Tina Spencer said that pay levels were lower than some counties, and that the county would continue to study the matter.
“The board has worked to try to get positions equalized,” Spencer said. “Overall, across the board, the study says that our wages here in this county are still 6 to 8 percent behind.”
Child support costs and cost of living increases were cited as concerns by workers for raising the pay issue.
“We use calculators, not darts on a board,” Holub said.
“If you did, you’d get lucky sometimes,” Haws said.