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Eagle County looks at raising pay

Eagle County looks at raising pay

Eagle County is considering raising the starting pay for a number of seasonal employees, including baggage handlers at the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Vail Daily archives photo

The valley’s employee shortage is leading to public and private organizations boosting their pay scales. Eagle County is one of those organizations.

The Eagle County Board of Commissioners recently heard requests for pay increases for both starting and current employees.

The county’s ECO Transit system remains six seasonal drivers short of its hiring goals for the winter. At the Eagle County Regional Airport, there’s a need for 20 seasonal employees, and only eight people have confirmed they’ll return for the winter.



The county recently purchased a three-bedroom townhome in Gypsum for ECO drivers. County officials are also looking at boosting pay for seasonal drivers from $23 to $25 per hour. Eagle County Schools is also looking for bus drivers, and pay starts at $23 per hour.

In an Oct. 17 discussion of the 2023 budget, the heads of the county’s finance and human resources departments have also suggested raising pay for all employees.



Finance Director Jill Klosterman told the commissioners that the county usually offers merit raises of up to 6%. But Human Resources Director Hollis Dempsey said that probably isn’t enough.

“We need to be paying people more in our community,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said the county has hired a consulting firm for a compensation study, which is expected to take six months or so. Before that, though, the commissioners will consider a proposal for more generous pay increases.

Dempsey said a merit pool of 4% could be paid in addition to annual pay adjustments.

The county also has a pool of money for bilingual employees who deal with the Spanish-speaking public. That policy, implemented in 2020, is intended to “recognize and reward” employees who speak more than one language, Dempsey said.

Dempsey said the county now has 117 people who receive the bilingual pay increase of 75 cents per hour.

The county is also planning to increase the employee referral bonus to $1,500 for every new employee a current employee refers to the organization.

The 2023 draft budget also increases county contributions to retirement funds.

Dempsey said Eagle County is currently lagging behind other organizations in the level of those contributions, Dempsey said. The current match is 6%, and Dempsey said 7% would be competitive with similar organizations.

But while various county departments are asking for a total of 18 full-time equivalent employees, Dempsey recommended postponing most of those requests.

Salaries and benefits already account for 39% of the county’s overall budget. The county’s current revenues are strong, with collections overall running 17% ahead of 2021. But, Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry noted, revenue is still running a bit behind the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

By The Numbers

Eagle County staff has proposed boosting pay for some seasonal work, including:

  • Bus drivers: Boosting starting pay from $23 to $25 per hour
  • Airport snowplow drivers: Boosting starting pay from $23 to $25 per hour
  • Baggage handlers: Moving starting pay from $20 to $23 per hour

This story is from VailDaily.com


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