Town of Breckenridge looks to increase wages for town employees

The intersection of Main Street and Ski Hill Road is pictured Aug. 19, 2021, in downtown Breckenridge. Town government is looking to increase wages for employee retention.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

The town of Breckenridge took a look at a recent staffing analysis, and council members said they are on board with budgeting for a raise for employees.

The town’s administration had been tasked with developing a pay study so the council could better understand how other municipalities provide compensation, but Town Manager Rick Holman said that creating a pay analysis comes with challenges since the job market is always changing.

“You look through the data, send it back for some revisions, and when we get it back, it’s already outdated or something else in the market has changed,” Holman said. “That throws a wrench into this, but as we have been analyzing the data to the point of looking at it, we have identified these areas that we know are lagging behind. I think we’re at a point where we need to pull the trigger on a recommendation and move forward with this.”

According to the analysis, the first quarter of 2022 had 11 employees leave. Of those, 10 were voluntary and one was involuntary. In the second quarter, 14 employees separated, and of those, 13 were voluntary and one was involuntary. The most recent quarter had less than the previous two, with seven employees choosing to leave.

Still, this is a decline in turnover from 2021, when it reached about 25%. Currently, the town of Breckenridge’s total turnover is trending at 18.29%, and the fourth quarter of the year is usually a less desirable time for employees to leave employment due to the holidays, the report states.

Of the employees that left, the largest reason in the first two quarters was “other employment,” according to the analysis. For the third quarter, employees cited “personal reasons” for leaving their positions instead of choosing another job. The departments that saw the most turnover across all three quarters were public works and the police department.

Human Resources Director Dana Laverdiere said the vacancy rate for positions was down and applicant volume is starting to trend upward for the town — but not to levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Laverdiere recommended that Town Council budget $1 million for raises. That would be about $3 per hour more for each position. 

“Everything that I’ve read says that the financial, mental and physical well-being of your employees is all important,” she said. “So it’s a three-legged stool, and you can’t ignore the others. Culture speaks to the well-being of our employees, so it’s not all financial. I believe that it’s all of those things that contribute to the culture.”

Across Summit County, local governments are making decisions that aim to entice workers to choose their respective town as their employers. This includes multiple towns making updates to down payment assistance programs and giving wage increases for town employees. 

“I think it’s extremely important to have (pay increases) along with taking a look at our cultural environment and the culture that we set and to be proactive on some of the nonmonetary aspects of the work culture that we foster to be an employer of choice in the county,” council member Jay Beckerman said.

The next step would be a budget amendment for the 2023 budget to approve the allocation.

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