Santa Fe City employees will soon see additional cash flow in, following unanimous city council approval Wednesday night of “hiring and retention incentives,” as part of an effort to to remedy an alarming vacancy rate which has improved only slightly in recent months.
The city has 320 vacancies, indicating a vacancy rate of 27%, according to Mayor Alan Webber spokesperson Dave Herndon. This is only a slight decrease from the start of October, when there were 348 vacancies.
A breakdown of the vacancy rate by department was not readily available, but the city’s jobs portal displays listings for street maintenance, park operations, accounting, and policing, among others.
Retention incentive funding worth $ 2.4 million comes from a resolution of tax disputes between the city – one of New Mexico’s many municipalities – and the Department of Taxation and Revenue of State. Excluding temporary employees and elected officials, approximately 1,200 municipal workers will receive two payments totaling $ 2,000. The first round will be released this month and the second next summer.
In addition, gross tax receipts, which have exceeded initial estimates, cover bonuses of $ 1,000 for new hires.
“We face a fundamentally different job market than what I think none of us have ever seen, both with the poaching of talent at all levels and the scarcity of applicants for job opportunities. ’employment in the public and private sectors, “Webber said Wednesday. Meet.
Companies have struggled to recruit staff this year, with some increasing wages to attract and keep workers.
The city of Santa Fe followed suit.
Councilors voted in October to raise the minimum wage for city workers to $ 15 an hour, affecting 217 employees who were earning less. (The local minimum wage for non-municipal workers is $ 12.32.)
The effects of the city’s understaffing are considerable.
In a September letter to city officials, representatives from the construction industry, including the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association and the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, alleged a backlog of permit applications, d ‘plan reviews and inspections, resulting in part from more than a dozen vacancies. in the service of regional planning.
Conversations the letter writers have had with city staff and the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees “confirm that the inability to recruit and retain frontline staff qualified is a crippling factor for the city’s operations in many departments ”.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, city council approved funding for a handful of existing and unfunded positions, including in the finance, public works and economic development departments.
Councilors also voted in favor of the creation and funding of a new manager of the Public Documents Inspection Act.
There has been an increase in requests for records over the past year, according to a memo from the city, resulting in longer response times and risks of “making mistakes with confidential records and / or the completeness of responses “and” successful litigation against the city “.
The city’s human resources department is hosting a job fair on Saturday where staff will be available to help potential employees complete applications, provide career advice and conduct on-site interviews.
CITY JOB FAIR: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 11. Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road.