WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Regional Landfill is having difficulties retaining staff members.
During a Public Works Committee meeting Wednesday, landfill manager Ron Kimble said the facility on Landfill Road has a high turnover rate among employees and that 25 workers have left since the middle of 2018.
“We have certain positions where we just have turnover,” Kimble said. “People come in, they work long enough for us to start to get them trained, and then they are out the door moving somewhere else.”
Kimble said he has 26 full-time employees. Part-time staff fluctuates. He said the turnover mainly involves labor staff, who often operate expensive pieces of equipment. He said employees are frequently lured away by other businesses that offer more pay. For example, Kimble said, a landfill technician who was making $17.50 an hour recently announced his intent to resign, as he was offered a job that would pay $4.50 more per hour.
“He said, ‘Ron I love my job, I love the people, but I have to look out for my family, too,’” Kimble told the committee.
Kimble said a mechanic’s assistant also recently left, taking a job with a local manufacturer to work on conveyor belts for $3 more per hour. He said the county is struggling to compete with the private sector.
“One of my main concerns is the turnover,” Kimble said. “I have some guys who have been with me for 15 years that are my key guys, where if they were to leave, it’s really going to hurt our operation. So that’s what I’m trying to prevent. And I don’t know how to do it.”
Kimble said it is difficult to get people to work at the landfill in the first place. Then, once people are hired, it is challenging to retain them.
Bob Wells, who represents the Opequon District on the Frederick County Supervisors, told Kimble, “It’s just the market.”
Gainesboro Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy said that while Frederick County offers long-term retirement benefits, those benefits are not always the best incentives for younger people.
“People want money now — they don’t want to wait for retirement,” McCarthy said.
Committee member Harvey Strawsnyder said that if the landfill increased pay for new hires, it would have to give longtime staff raises as well. He also expressed concern about the landfill having to temporarily close one of its 11 convenience centers because there isn’t enough staff to operate them.
“If this is the future, we’ve got to try to figure out how to deal with it,” Kimble said. “We still have to provide a service, and I’m trying to figure out how to do that.”
Public Works Director Joe Wilder said that his department would review the situation and possibly initiate a study with the county’s Human Resources Department to find a possible solution.
Also at the meeting:
Wilder said the Esther Boyd Animal Shelter would like to add a two-bay garage to its facility for additional storage space. He said it would cost about $25,000-$30,000 for design plans and about $200,000-$300,000 to build it. This project would be significantly less expensive than the shelter’s previous plan to build a 2,200-square-foot animal exercise and training facility. Plans to construct the exercise/training facility were postponed indefinitely last year when most bids came in at nearly $1 million.
Wilder said that many residents in the Shawneeland Sanitary District have complained about speeding in Shawneeland. According to Wilder, many vehicles go well over the 25 mph speed limit — sometimes as fast as 60 mph. He said the Public Works Department and the Shawneeland Sanitary District Advisory Committee plan to have a meeting soon to talk to residents about the issue and explore potential solutions, including speed bumps and additional signage. To help address the issue, Wilder said the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has begun monitoring and patrolling the Shawneeland roads.
Attending the meeting at the County Administration Building were committee members J. Douglas McCarthy, Gene Fisher, Bob Wells, Harvey Strawsnyder and Gary Longerbeam.