Spencer board looks to fill code enforcement vacancies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2019

SPENCER — With Director of Land Management Troy Powell set to move on to Greensboro in June, the Spencer Board of Aldermen on Tuesday discussed how it is going to fill another empty spot in the town’s code enforcement office — and fast.

The job, a full-time code enforcement officer, has been vacant since February. Following a discussion, the board moved to use Bonney Staffing services to fill the empty position.

According to Powell, the vacancy occurred when the previous officer accepted a job with the Rowan County Parks and Recreation Department for $6 more per hour than his pay with the town of Spencer. The town pays code enforcement officers $10.20 an hour.

Powell said that only three individuals have applied for the position with a salary that low. One declined the job, and the two others didn’t meet specific requirements.

“Until we get a decision to raise this pay, the caliber of candidates we’re getting are people with no driver’s licenses,” said Powell.

And, he said, a license is necessary in the job, as it requires operating a town truck while enforcing codes in the town limits.

In an effort to increase the caliber of applicants, Powell proposed raising the rate of pay for officers for the remainder of the 2018-19 fiscal year to $12.75 an hour. He also said former Town Manager Terence Arrington had approved splitting the full-time position into two 29-hour, part-time positions, providing the two with a greater number of officers and more hours of service.

The town had partnered with Bonney Staffing to help with the recruitment of part-timers.

In a prepared presentation to the board Tuesday, Powell discussed the financial advantage of working through the staffing agency. A 40-hour employee paid $12.75 an hour would cost the town $42,677.96 in salary and benefits, he said. But a 29-hour employee paid the same through Bonney would cost just $27,418.46, for a savings of $15,259.50 annually.

If two part-time employees are hired, the extra cost to the town would be just $12,158.96 for 18 more hours a week.

But board members questioned the decision to split the full-time position in two, worrying it would lead to higher turnover and more cost for the town in training, uniforms and more.

“Part-time people usually have no commitment,” said Alderman Mike Boone. “They don’t really have a commitment to a company like if they were a true member of the force.”

But Powell pointed to the town’s current housing code enforcement officer, who had worked for the town part time for three years.

Alderman David Smith said he thought that plans from a prior board meeting had been to hire a temporary staff member through Bonney with hopes to bring him on as a full-time town employee after the necessary 521 hours or four months on the job.

Mayor Jim Gobbel said the decision ultimately hinged on a decision by the board to change the position to part-time. The board voted unanimously for a full-time employee in 2013, he said.

Smith balked at the notion, saying splitting the position permanently would be “like poking two holes in a bucket to try and fix it.”

What he would like to see instead, he said, is using Bonney Staffing to find a full-time employee through its traditional part-time, 521-hour trial model.

The board eventually agreed, directing Powell to proceed with recruiting through the service at the current pay rate of $10.20 an hour.

The town will pay Bonney Staffing $14.08 an hour for the employee, with the $10.20 salary coming from that.

Powell said that in his remaining days with the town, he will be working with a budget officer to propose increasing the rate of pay  for code enforcement officers to $14.75 an hour for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

He also said Bonney Staffing had sent an employee for an interview on Wednesday. After pre-employment screening, she’ll start next week, he said.

In other business from Monday’s agenda:

• The board approved budget amendments for the police and public works departments.

The amendments replaced $16,000 in contingency funds for the Police Department after a grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety for new guns and allocated $100,000 in Powell Bill funds to repairing roads and sidewalks and making streets disability-compliant.

• The board approved a resolution supporting a public fireworks display at the N.C. Transportation Museum on June 29.

The board also voted to contribute $2,500 to the Salute the Troops program that was open to the community last year.

• The board approved a resolution in support of Food Truck Friday on May 31. It will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. in the Park Plaza parking lot and will include live music.

• The board approved a resolution to support a community garden, to be located on a lot at 600 S. Yadkin Ave.

• The board approved a design for its Park Plaza project, updating entrances and exits to conform with the development’s covenants with other tenants.