The city is conducting a hiring push to combat staff shortages in the sanitation department.
As is the case in many communities in the state and around the country, the city’s sanitation department has become a concern for Safety Harbor officials. The public works division is suffering from severe staff shortages, leaving civic leaders searching for solutions.
Shortage of Qualified Applicants
“Every (public works) department in the nation is having trouble hiring people,” Safety Harbor City Manager Matt Spoor said recently, noting like many neighboring communities, Safety Harbor has experienced a “major shortfall in our public works and sanitation departments.” Spoor said despite offering competitive pay, decent hours, and great benefits, finding qualified applicants, especially ones with the required CDL license, has been difficult, especially with so many municipalities fishing from the same talent pool. “The hardest ones to get are the ones with that CDL,” he said of the commercial license required to operate heavy trucks.
Commissioners Consider Outside Sanitation Contracts
Spoor said they have been instructed by the city commission to continue their recruiting efforts while exploring other options. “The commission’s recommendation was to continue to hire employees and look into possibly piggybacking, or mirroring, contractual services in other communities,” he explained. “So, we’re continuing our recruiting efforts to bring in new people and looking into the possibility that we could have to modify our services. We’re doing both.”
According to Public Works Director Renee Cooper, their efforts are already paying dividends. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but we’ve had a good couple of weeks in the hiring process,” Cooper said by phone on Friday, Feb. 3, noting they’ve recently received double the amount of applications and have half a dozen potential candidates onboarding following expanded online, social media and other hiring campaigns. “We have six different people in the hiring process and if all goes well, they could start in the next few weeks, and that would be huge for us,” she said. “It would take a huge burden off the entire department.”
City Continues with Excellent Public Works Services
To that point Cooper said the city is still providing the same level of service despite the staffing
shortfalls, thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach by her PW crew. “We have not faltered on our service schedule, and we’re still providing the same level of service, and that’s thanks to the contributions of the overall public works staff,” she said. Cooper noted to help with the hiring push they plan to host a job fair for high school seniors in
the spring. “We want to hold a senior night where we can reach these high school kids who are looking for
an alternate to college and don’t want to work in the fast-food industry,” she said. “We want to
tell them we provide training while offering a well-paid job with benefits. We’re at a point in
time where a lot of tradespeople are retiring, so we’re trying to find a way to bridge that gap.
And I’m going to keep working hard on these recruiting efforts. I can’t stop and I won’t stop.”
For more information about the sanitation division, visit: https://www.cityofsafetyharbor.com/840/Garbage-and-Yard-Waste-Collection