Workforce reality check needed to maintain services
BY SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – While cities struggle to fill skilled part-time positions, which don’t require the financial burden of providing benefits, communities are weighing the need to hire full-time workers to meet critical needs.
The city of Lincoln Park, which has had difficulty finding and hiring part-time Department of Public Services employees, as well as part-time positions in other departments, including administrative positions, is looking for ways to solve its dilemma.
At the DPS, where one administrative employee has left, and another will soon, the department could be left in a position without having anyone to answer the phones, which would have an immediate negative impact on the city’s ability to respond to urgent needs like water main breaks and vehicle-damaging potholes on city streets.
City Administrator James Krizan acknowledged that people are not seeking part-time positions.
“Right now, the issue is part-time employment,” he said. “And it’s not just us. I talked to restaurants and other service industries that are trying to fill part-time positions, and they can’t do it.”
Mayor Thomas Karnes said the city should review whether it wants to turn part-time positions into full-time jobs.
“I think it would be more along the lines of the total number of full-time personnel,” he said. “My suggestion would be to let the data come in from the evaluation that we are doing, and the evaluation could very well be for two full-time positions, and then take action at that particular point.”
City Councilman Larry Kelsey said it has always been challenging to hire part-time employees for the DPS, but since it provides critical city services, the city must either find a way to hire its own employees or accept the fact that it will have to contract out some of its services.
“It should be looked at as a very vital, important part of the city, and treated as such,” he said. “Because, if not, everybody on this council is going to be getting a phone call, I can guarantee you that, and somebody is going to have to tell them, ‘Sorry, we don’t have any more people.’”