With fewer plow drivers, snow piles grow
VAIL, Colorado The town of Vail has struggled to find workers this winter, and at least one important municipal service snowplowing has been curtailed as a result, officials say.About 10 percent of the towns jobs have remained unfilled throughout the ski season, said John Power, human-resources director for the town.Vail has gone without its full complement of police officers, mechanics, dispatchers, plow drivers and snow shovelers. About 25 positions have remained unfilled during the winter.This is the first year it really has kind of sustained itself at that level, Power said.Increased competition for employees has made it more difficult for Vail to find workers, Power said.Without question, its competition, he said. Theres just more competition for the labor pool. Look around at whats going on here. These new hotels are adding jobs. Theyre expanding in Eagle. Look at whats going on in Gypsum.
Greg Hall, director of public works for the town, pointed to a lack of affordable housing, especially family housing, as a reason for the shortage.Faced with copious snowfall this year, shorthanded crews have worked overtime to clear roads, Hall said. But snow has piled up alongside roads because there havent been enough workers to haul it to the town snow dump, Hall said.Roads get narrow, Hall said. Cul-de-sacs get full.Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland said the level of service in town has remained consistent due to crews working hard.The employees have certainly stepped forward and taken up the slack, he said. It puts a huge stress on those guys.
Still, the high number of openings for town positions is troubling, Cleveland said.We sell one thing at the town of Vail, and its service, he said. If we dont have people to plow the streets and drive buses and pick up trash, were not doing what we as a municipality are there to do.Cleveland said the town needs to continue to look for ways to provide housing for its staff, especially essential workers, such as police officers and mechanics, who are needed in emergencies.The town now has 38 deed-restricted rental units and several condos devoted to its employees. In all, there are 340 deed-restricted rental units and 77 deed-restricted condos in the town.Power said the town will get more creative in its hiring, including looking to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico for employees.
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