• Last modified 1017 days ago (Oct. 6, 2021)


Road work grinds to a halt over workers quitting

Staff writer

A rash of resignations and retirements has left the county’s road and bridge department unable to keep up.

“My level of service right now is almost non-existent,” county engineer Brice Goebel told commissioners Monday. “Currently, I’m 10 people short. I’m asking for permission about what I can do.”

According to Goebel, employees are leaving because they can earn more elsewhere.

“Most of the guys, the No. 1 thing they’re concerned about is pay,” he said.

Applicants for open positions have demanded as much as $25 an hour, Goebel said. On a 40-hour workweek, that’s a minimum of $52,000 a year, plus what by private standards is an extensive package of time off and benefits.

“A pay raise across the board — I don’t know whether that’s the answer,” Goebel said, noting what he termed the county’s already tight budget.

Before discussing pay scales, Goebel and commissioners met with the county clerk and county counselor behind closed doors for two sessions totaling almost an hour to discuss what were termed a series of individual personnel matters.

State law does not allow commissioners to meet secretly to discuss pay scales or overall personnel strategies.

During a brief discussion upon returning to open session, commissioners directed Brice to develop and recommend what they termed “an objective rating system” to adjust the pay of equipment operators to better reflect their “level of ability.”

“Not only do we want to take care of the employees we have but also attract others,” Goebel said.

No present or former employees spoke at the meeting, but in private some have expressed frustration with what they regard as the increasingly political nature of their jobs.

They have complained that gravel necessary to repair rock roads after heavy rains has not been made available because it or hauling equipment was reserved for paving projects.

At their meeting Monday, commissioners also discussed the need for a computer replacement schedule in the appraiser’s office and were told a curb that a transfer station patron had tripped over was being painted to make it more visible.

Commissioner Dave Crofoot presided in the absence of chairman Randy Dallke.

Last modified Oct. 6, 2021