Mohave County ‘hot job’ holders in Public Works to get 15 percent raise

KINGMAN – Having received a flood of complaints about the poor condition and maintenance of county roads, the Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a 15 percent salary increase for “hot jobs” in Public Works, or jobs that have a high turnover rate.

Steve Latoski, director of Mohave County Public Works, said pay is being raised for jobs that are difficult to fill and retain, including different classes of road maintenance workers, sign technician, sign fabricator, traffic control technician and specialist, crew leader and supervisor.

The salary increase would cost the county about $418,000 out of the Highway Revenue User Fund, which is already depleted and facing further sweeps from the state Legislature.

Public Works currently has 75 field workers, and is authorized for 84 positions, Latoski said. Turnover rate is about 36 percent, which increases the cost of recruiting and training new employees.

Latoski looked at data on salaries from other cities and counties, and national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and found Mohave County’s road workers to be 16.5 percent underpaid.

Supervisor Steve Moss asked if the funding was coming out of savings from vacancies within Public Works.

County Administrator Mike Hendrix reported total vacancy savings of about $1.2 million, and said salary funding would come from that.

Public Works “rightsized” during the economic downturn, Latoski noted, and personnel expenses remain 25 percent below pre-recession levels.

“We are well-positioned to absorb an aggregate increase of about $418,000,” the department head said.

Moss also asked about funding from the vacancy savings if additional personnel are hired at a 15 percent increase in pay. He wanted to know if the number of positions was capped.

Latoski responded that 18 percent of the positions are “frozen,” and he was not proposing to release them in the 2018 budget.

“Most of our citizen complaints are related to roads,” Supervisor Jean Bishop said. “I think it’s important to not only recruit and hire, but to retain these employees.”

The approved action requires county employees who voluntarily leave within two years to reimburse all expenses paid by the county for those employees to attain an Arizona commercial driver’s license (CDL).