Record editorial: Easy answers to City Hall hiring challenges are in short supply
With a strong economy that continues to chug along and the unemployment rate in Utah down to 2.5%, it’s hard out there for employers who are in need of labor.
A recent report from the human resources director at the Marsac Building indicates Park City’s municipal government is struggling to recruit candidates and that there has been a slight increase in employee turnover. The report identifies the expensive housing market and nearby competitors offering competitive salaries as contributing factors to the city’s labor woes — in short, the same circumstances employers throughout the area have contended with in recent years as the boom economy has limited the pool of people seeking work.
In a town that rightly demands a lot of its local government, it’s easy to imagine the issue coming to a head if the tight labor market causes City Hall to operate less effectively. But fixing the problem, as employers all over Park City can attest, won’t be easy.
The most obvious solution is to offer higher wages that are more lucrative than what the competition pays and that allow employees to afford housing in the community. Given that, City Hall is wise to explore how current salaries stack up to that of comparable jurisdictions and what kind of increases would be feasible and prudent. At a recent meeting, the Park City Council approved an agreement for a consultant to evaluate City Hall’s employee compensation.
The fiscal impacts of boosting salaries, however, could make it a thorny subject, even though primary homeowners fund only a small portion of the municipal budget. The results of the last few Park City elections have shown there is broad support for the leadership at the Marsac Building, but it’s not difficult to imagine some residents bristling at the prospect of staffers receiving significant wage bumps.
Parkites, doubtless, will be intrigued to learn what the consultant finds. And the elected officials would do well to move forward with a measured approach if the conclusions support broad salary increases.
If that proves to be the case — and if City Hall is unable to craft alternative solutions to attract employees — residents who demand the best from their local government may have to get comfortable with the idea of paying people more for the work of making it function.
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