Commissioners agree to raise pay for county transportation drivers

York County Aging Services and Public Transportation Office

YORK – The York County Commissioners have agreed to increase the pay for drivers who operate the county’s transportation vans for riders from the public.

They made the decision this past week, after meeting with Lori Byers, director of the county’s aging services and county transportation. Byers told them the slight increases would not affect her current budget and the increases were necessary in order to fill three open positions. Without the needed drivers, she said the local transportation service was becoming difficult to provide and operate.

“Since January, we have had a part-time position remain vacant,” Byers told the county board members. “Recently, we had a full-time person retire and we had to let go of another part-time driver. I’ve been driving. We have been having a hard time filling these positions.”

She explained how the part-time drivers were getting a base pay of $13 an hour, $14.50 for full-time driver. She noted how drivers do get rate increases over time, with the current highest pay for a full-time driver being at $14.75.

Byers proposed going to $14.50 as the base pay for part-time drivers and $15 for full-time, “with the intention to eventually be at or above minimum wage by 2026.”

She also recommended a similar rate of pay for dispatchers.

“We can cover this, in this year’s budget, because we had a lot less repairs this year as we now have newer vehicles,” Byers said.

The vehicles are funded with the aid of state and federal dollars.

“This would require no additional taxpayer funds beyond what is already allocated,” she explained. “We have had a lot of interest” from people applying for the open positions, “until they knew the pay. We’ve also had many people call to ask about the pay but then not submit applications. I’m driving and we are turning down a lot of riders. It’s getting out there we are not available and it’s affecting our service.”

The need for employees reduced the driving hours by 55 a week, Byer said, compared to what they were able to provide in the past.

York County Commissioner Randy Obermier said he’d recommend making the base pay be $15, as the “current budget can handle it.”

“I don’t think there is a problem with bumping it up but I’m hesitant to include an increase in October right now,” said Commissioner Daniel Grotz. “I’m hesitant to approve something now as we haven’t budgeted that yet (for the next fiscal year). My intent, for the next fiscal year, is a 0% increase in the budget. I don’t know that I’m on board to approve future increases. I’m ready to increase the base pay right now, but I’m hesitant to commit to an increase in the fall, in a budget we haven’t discussed yet.”

Byers reminded the commissioners how the Nebraska Department of Transportation reimburses the county for this service and mentioned, “these are the lowest paid county employees.” She also wanted to make sure current employees are making more money than newly hired employees.

“So what you are saying is have incremental increases for everyone now,” Obermier said, “that we start new employees at $15 and increase all the others at that same rate, without a secured raise being established for the fall.”

“This is an important job as these drivers care for their clients’ safety,” Byers said. “This is not a minimum wage job.”

“I have no problem approving these increases, but I don’t want to commit to giving any raises again in October,” Grotz said. “I’m not saying we won’t, but we haven’t discussed that budget yet.”

“I agree,” Obermier said. “We are taking care of right here, right now.”

The commissioners agreed to increase the starting base pay with similar increases for the existing employees.

 

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