Breckenridge leadership looks to raise wages for seasonal employees to compete with Vail Resorts, other towns

Rick Holman, Breckenridge town manager, said potentially closing town hall on Fridays could give employees a three-day weekend, which could help with recruiting employees.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

Town leaders are looking for ways to entice seasonal workers to select working for Breckenridge over other short-term employment options in the county, and higher wages could be among the solutions.

At Breckenridge Town Council’s meeting Tuesday, March 22, Human Resources Director Dana Laverdiere said Town Council approved a 4% increase in pay across the board in February 2021. This time last year, seasonal pay rates for employees were $12 per hour. Shortly after that, she said the rate increased to $14 per hour and then up to $15.

In light of Vail Resorts’ recent decision to make base pay $20 per hour, Laverdiere said Breckenridge has to compete with that salary plus that of other towns in the area, mainly Frisco and Dillon, for seasonal employees.

Breckenridge human resource employees are looking to hire about 200-250 seasonal summer employees, and Laverdiere said they could be starting pay for seasonal workers at $18 per hour. That would not apply to all positions — such as junior positions or some exempt jobs, which are tipped — but it would be the minimum for most of the seasonal positions, she said.

“Along with the $18 an hour for most positions, we would also look at returning seasonal (employees), and we would look at part-time, year-round incumbents to see” what works best, Laverdiere said.

Compression comes into play when a returning employee started their tenure at a lower wage and has since received raises. With large-scale pay raises, their previous rate might now be the same as someone who just started. Laverdiere said the department would look at the wages for those longer-term workers and adjust their pay accordingly. She added that she plans to hire a consultant to help adjust rates for full-time, year-round employees in alignment with the town’s budget. She estimated the total cost of the adjustments will be $200,000.

Town Manager Rick Holman said Tuesday’s conversation about employee compensation will likely not be the last. He suggested that the budgeting process later this year will have discussions about how to include higher compensation in the town’s budget for 2023.

“How do we handle our merit increases, and do we look at having cost-of-living increases? Others do, and we haven’t done that,” he said.

Human resources and town management are thinking November would be a good time to make those kinds of assessments since officials will know more about the results of their current plan, Holman said. That will give the administration time to think about how those kinds of adjustments will affect the budget, he added. The results of those discussions will then be presented to council.

Holman added that making adjustments in other parts of town management could help with recruiting and providing higher wages. One suggestion he made included having the Town Hall building open for four days per week instead of five. Not every employee would be on this type of schedule, he said, but he thinks it could benefit other services. Using that technique would be more of a four- to five-month trial before deciding whether it will be a longer-term decision, he said.

“We really want to move to try to close Town Hall and some of our administrative offices,” Holman said. “Friday afternoons are very quiet for Town Hall anyways, and we would still obviously have all of our necessary services still getting done. We’d still be doing building inspections, but people wouldn’t be coming in and being able to get some things done. Staff is really excited about giving this a try.”


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