KILLEEN, Texas — Killeen City Council members approved an emergency increase for Solid Waste employees in hopes to help address the high turnover and staff shortage.
According to a city press release, “Pay for City of Killeen equipment operators would go from $15.25 - $22.87 an hour, as well as $17.35 - $26.03 an hour. Pay for Solid Waste service workers would go from $14.37 - $21.55 an hour and $15.25 - $22.87 an hour.”
For clarity, "those who made $15.25 - $22.87 an hour will now make between $17.35 - $26.03 an hour... and those who made $14.37 - $21.55 an hour will now make $15.25 - $22.87 an hour," according to an email sent to 6 News from the City of Killeen.
The city is working to hire for multiple positions, which can be found here.
As of Friday, the city still needed to fill half of the positions in the Solid Waste Department. Councilwoman Mellisa Brown said 22 of the departments 44 positions were still vacant.
Because this is considered an emergency increase, the new wages will become effective on the first day of the City of Killeen's next pay period.
Jeff Reynolds, Executive Director of Public Works said the solid waste employee shortage is a trend across the country with Commercial Driver's License applicants, or CDL, being in high-demand due to the Department of Transportation's (DOT) new requirement. DOT requires CDL applicants to attend an accredited driving school in order to get a new CDL permit and/or license. The classes can cost up to $5,500.
Killeen is also considering creating an initiative to pay for, or reimburse, the cost of CDL classes for employees who have made a commitment to the city.
"This pay bump will help us keep up with a competitive market and retain the quality staffing we have,” Reynolds said. “These are dedicated employees who are going above and beyond to provide residents with an essential service and we want to compensate them appropriately.”
The pay bump is meant to both attract new employees and help keep the staff members the city still has. Five solid waste employees have left the city in just the last week, and the remaining employees are working 12-hour days to keep up with service needs.
In addition to the pay raise, the city council also approved an emergency measure to completely suspend curbside bulk collection from May 30 to Sept. 30. This will allow the department to consolidate employees and focus on normal track pickup services.
"Citizens would still have access to the City’s Transfer Station where they can dispose of up to 300 pounds of bulk items per month free of charge," a news release said.
"Solid Waste collection is a vital service offered by the City to ensure that waste is collected and disposed of in an environmentally-sound, cost-effective, and safe manner," a news release said.
For more information, click here.