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County jobs vacant

pay blamed

October 11, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County government officials said Thursday they are having a hard time filling open positions, a problem they attribute to noncompetitive wages and benefit packages.

Human Resources Director Alan Davis said, in particular, the county has a hard time filling professional slots, such as engineering and accounting jobs.

"It's a big problem. We're not competing very well," Chief Engineer Terry McGee said.

McGee said the county cannot keep up with the salaries and benefits that private engineering companies offer, which keeps potential candidates away and causes current employees to leave their county jobs.

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Davis said employees also leave for higher paying jobs in neighboring Frederick County, a trend also affecting the Washington County Sheriff's Department and the Washington County Board of Education.

"Within the last two years, I'd say we had a 50 percent turnover rate," McGee said. "Most of these people have left to go to higher-paying jobs."

The engineering department has 18 employees.

Davis said one engineering technician position has been open since June, because it only attracted one applicant.

"The individual was not even remotely qualified," McGee said.

The pay for county engineering technician jobs range from $22,044 to $55,971, depending on job level, according to the county's wage scale.

The county currently has eight open positions, including those of Economic Development Commission director, gaming commission director and two program managers.

Davis said the human resources department has had to expand advertising efforts in the hopes of attracting qualified candidates. The county must rely on promoting a good work environment, because of its noncompetitive salary and benefit offerings, he said.

"There was a time when we could advertise a county position ... and receive an ample supply of applicants," Davis said. "Now we're spending an awful lot of money in recruiting, and we're not getting the response that we'd like to have."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the county might have a problem attracting qualified candidates to the Economic Development Commission director job because of the pay, and Davis said he hopes qualified candidates apply for the gaming director position.

The EDC director job pays between $51,400 to $82,239, and the salary range for the gaming director post is $37,780 to $60,448, according to the wage scale.

"We're certainly doing the best to recruit and retain quality people, but the competition is pretty fierce out there," Davis said.

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