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Seasonal workers get raise

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

The Town of Truckee made the salary for its seasonal equipment operators a little more palatable with salary boosts from 20 to 38 percent in a special council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Town council voted to increase the salary range for seasonal/temporary equipment operators from a maximum of $13.44/hr. to a maximum of $18.57/hr., an increase of 38 percent. Less experienced workers will receive an increase from last year of approximately 20 percent, from $11.37 per hour to $13.76 per hour.

“Our seasonal equipment operators get lots of hours, so their wages aren’t as high,” Director of Public Works, Tom Covey said. “But the top-paid temporary worker was making less than lowest-paid regular. So I asked the town to bring up wages to match that of regular employees.”

Mayor Maia Schneider said the council hoped the measure might draw more employees.

“Is it going to help – we’re not sure,” said Schneider. “Along with so many other employers in the area, we’re having trouble finding help. It’s a very competitive job market.”

Town staff incorporated the cost of living for seasonal workers in salary changes earlier this year. However, following only two “marginally qualified” applicants for the nine billeted positions advertised in local newspapers, a regional survey revealed salary increases that incorporated the cost of living in Truckee still did not equal salaries in neighboring communities.

“Experienced equipment operators make from $15 to $20 per hour,” Covey said.

In the 2000-01 budget, $90,000 has been allocated for seasonal/temporary employees. In previous years the town has come in under budget, which may be the result of low snowfall.

“We base our salary and budget on a moderate-to-heavy season. In the past few years we haven’t got that. So, this year we budgeted $90,000 and if we have a heavy winter we’ll spend that,” Covey said.

In a study for regular status town employees, salaries were lower than salaries in neighboring communities by 17 percent. The town compensated for the difference by increasing salary caps.

“There is a small pool for snow removal laborers. We do random drug tests so the labor pool continues to go down,” Covey said.

“Nationwide there is a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, so it isn’t just Truckee. There aren’t enough workers out there. And in small towns like Truckee we’re all competing against one another for qualified personnel.”


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