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Waynesboro struggling to recruit, retain employees

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 8:15 PM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - Waynesboro’s struggles with recruiting and retaining employees is straining service levels and threatening public safety. The city’s Human Resources Director painted a concerning picture during a City Council retreat at the Brite Transit Hub in Fishersville Tuesday, December 14.

Record low unemployment rates and wages that, in many cases, aren’t competitive means Waynesboro is left with open jobs. The challenges are so significant they’re having to make choices.

The city conducted a pay study in 2019 to address below market salaries. While creative thinking improved a few compensation issues, Waynesboro failed to adopt a pay structure.

Human Resources Director Nichole Nicholson points to the pay difference for sanitation workers in the Shenandoah Valley: In Staunton, she says they make $17 an hour. While in Waynesboro, they make $11.

Public Works worries about a scenario of having to choose fixing a waterline break over plowing snow, because there’s just one water crew.

“Those same people are getting pulled in three different directions,” Nicholson said. “We used to have coverage and people cross trained to address that, but when you have one crew and vacancies in another department there’s no one to pull. That means you’re making choices about what you’re going to do.”

Nicholson says they need a revenue stream that is directed toward employees in order to keep them and deliver services to citizens.

City Manager Mike Hamp says this isn’t about getting Waynesboro in the blue ribbon category when it comes to compensation, but just to make the city competitive.

Next steps involve city staff and councilors coming back together to talk about what a solution looks like.

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Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.