Village faces shortage of summer workers

Board will consider raising wages for seasonal help to attract more applicants for public works positions

GRAFTON PUBLIC WORKS Department seasonal employee Jake Neperud mowed grass outside the Grafton police station. The department is seeking more workers this summer because it has only filled four of eight available positions. The Village Board next week is expected to discuss increasing pay and also adding a signing bonus for seasonal help. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Grafton is in need of seasonal workers for its Public Works Department this summer. 

“Everyone is trying to hire right now,” Public Works Director Amber Thomas said. “The shortage of seasonal workers isn’t specific to Grafton. It’s occurring in most municipalities.”

As of early this week, the department had filled four out of eight available positions and received one application for a part-time worker.

Thomas said she believes the shortage in workers is due to them finding higher-paying jobs. The starting wage the village pays is $10.39 per hour for a first-year worker and $12.16 per hour for employees who return the following year.

Next week, the Village Board is expected to consider increasing the wage rates to $14.72 and $17.23. The board may also approve a $250 signing bonus.

Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said the average pay in Ozaukee County is $12 per hour. Port Washington pays its seasonal employees about $13 per hour. 

Typically, the workers are high school or college students. 

“You have to be 17 or older because of some of the situations we deal with,” Thomas said.

Daily tasks involve cutting grass at village buildings and parks, weeding, watering, planting trees and flower beds, repairing roads and cleaning storm-sewer grates. 

“It’s a little bit of everything. The majority of the time, they are cutting grass,” Thomas said.

During last week’s Village Board meeting, Trustee Lisa Harbeck said she was concerned the seasonal workers may become overworked and eventually leave their job. 

Thomas said she has to use full-time employees to maintain the upkeep. 

“That means we may not get to other projects our full-time staff works on, such as repairing storm sewers,” she said.

Seasonal employees work from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Fridays. 

For more information, email Thomas at athomas@village.grafton.wi.us or call the department at 375-5325.

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