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thegringoburqueno

Lol. Probably like 34k a year to live in the most expensive town in Colorado... Sweet. Isn't gentrification lovely?


alphawolf29

one of the most expensive towns in the USA


polarcyclone

I know we have a lot of guys on here are looking to get into this industry and I'm familiar with the area and employer. So I'll share some insights. First this is Vail Colorado one of the most expensive areas in the country to live. The average cost of living is 65% higher than the rest of the country and housing is 200% greater than the national average. On housing this area has had employers buying homes due to an over 4000 unit shortfall as they try to be both a ski retreat and a regular area. You will never afford an actual home as a working person relatively close to work, this is the aspen for rich people that aren't famous. The stipend for housing is 300$ and 2br rentals go for 1800$+. They are offering 19.xx to 24.xx for entry level plus a 2$hr wastewater stipend. This is in line with most facilities in the front range and I don't know of one that will admit it but they're all paying above listed range relative to experience. The stipend beats by a little what some facilities offer for retention bonuses. Their vacation plan is average at best as well as their medical and retirement benefits though they're a 401a if you're familiar and want that. IMO it's not a horrible offer but anyone interested should know it's not any better than anything else in the rest of the state which has a severe shortfall of operators and facilities in significantly cheaper areas where you don't get buried by snow in the mountains.


verplanck

or you can be even more dependent on your employer and live in company housing! The economics of ski resorts are horrible. No one (aside from upper management) who works at them can possibly live in town. A wastewater operator should be a solid professional who can afford to live in the community they work in.


polarcyclone

It's horrible when I talk to HR and city managers out here and they tell me about employees coming to them in tears because their lease didn't get renewed and the next closest place they can afford is to far to afford commuting to work. The only operators I know making it in CO either bought a house 10 years or more ago or are A operators in the DINK status everyone else is living paycheck to paycheck as a govermwnt employee.


verplanck

This seems to be the norm for a tourist-based economy. VT is struggling with the same issues; once COVID hit literally all the houses were bought up in some towns. Cash in hand, no matter the amount of repair work it needed (it's New England, our housing stock is generally old and shitty). I have an idea what some municipal employees make and the only reason I think they're able to live in some of these towns is the fact that they bought their houses 15+ years ago. "Investors" buying up houses and turning them into airbnbs is just making the problem worse.


polarcyclone

Unfortunately I was referencing municipalities in the front range which is an oil and IT driven economy. right now you're seeing private employees getting 40%+ raises a grocery cashier makes the same as an entry level operator now. The citys are telling their employees that if they just hang on through the year that next year they can give cola raises since the data wasn't there this year. Meanwhile I have utilities directors talking about operators pulling over 100k because of overtime and how they're one or two more resignations away from shutting down facilities.


TwoXJs

Dude I grew up in CO and what they call good pay is absolutely laughable.


doodoobutter781

Fuck that boujee place, I make 100k a year in Texas working 50 hours a week with weekends off. 401k, vacation, insurance. Plus housing is cheap compared to other states. It was way cheaper until we had an influx if Californians, Oregon, Washington and New York peeps moving here.


yourbabiesdaddy

and youre an operator in wwt?


doodoobutter781

A kind of waste water treatment yes. I run a closed loop system to manage our wastewater and reuse on the facility.


yourbabiesdaddy

right on. thats rad. i was looking at texas a while back along with every other californian but it seems like i wouldnt be welcomed lol


doodoobutter781

That's not necessarily true. It's the folks that bring their politics to our state that we have a problem with. We don't want our state to turn into California is all.


Agitated-Ant-2938

Some front range municipalities are trying to hire operators at $17/hr with the average home cost over 500k, and they have no clue why they can’t keep/hire people. It’s sad when they force their own people out, then have to contract out for the work. I’ve heard of a few having zero certified operators left. They’ve given one 3% raise in 3 years, despite multiple certifications. Pretty sure there is a single “salary survey” person who has about driven the pay of operators into the ground. You can see exactly who used the person, and they are all trying to hire new operators in the mid teens…. By having an unqualified person conduct a salary survey for public sector employees, a few places have effectively lowered the pay grade and ability to continue working for a municipality and make a livable wage, despite the knowledge, certifications and experience these people have. Once the salary survey is put together, other municipalities use that information to do the same, whether it’s realized or not. When you have a substantial turnover rate in a municipal line of work, you have a serious problem. These people don’t expect to get rich. They work hard for what should be a livable wage. Especially on the collections/distribution side. Many are required to plow snow, so a second job (which should NOT be needed, but many are facing trying to find) is impossible because of the added obligation of plowing snow. Rather than listening to every person they lost requesting to have the reclassifications/salary survey looked into, many are losing hard working, dedicated people who simply can’t make ends meet continuing to be underplayed and misclassified. Maybe they’ll figure it out when they have to pay Davis-Bacon wages for contracted work because they can’t work their own systems. (They’ll end up paying at LEAST 4 times the rate of someone’s salary + benefits, and lose plow drivers.) It’s terrible. Turnover typically costs 150% of a person’s salary due to lost productivity, onboarding, training, taxes, recruitment, etc. when you have SKILLED positions with intricate knowledge of specific systems, you can guarantee the cost of turnover is drastically higher. The people so worried about saving $5/hour on the people that keep things safe and running, are going to end up costing municipalities millions of taxpayer dollars when the work has to be contracted out and preventative maintenance can’t be done. When you can’t do the preventative maintenance, you’ll have exponentially higher capital improvement projects. All with taxpayer dollars…. When you have large rate increases and your utility departments are no longer creating revenue to fund other projects, you will have to answer for the misuse of funds. Some people at the top are raking in huge salary increases, and most public works employees in the front range are NOT getting by. Sadly, many people have been holding out in hopes of a correction to the inaccurate survey, but they are out of time. All jobs are important to a well run municipality. Having karate instructors paid higher than your utility workers who have CDL’s, certifications and are a critical role in your FEMA emergency response plan is an issue. The certifications are not a simple online test someone can just take. You have to have documented years of experience and a certain level of ability to even sit for the exams. It seems like there is a lack of understanding of what these people actually do, and sadly, they’re the last jobs people want to observe to make sure they are classified and paid correctly. When you lose these people, you don’t have water, you have environmental concerns, you don’t have anywhere for your sewage to go. You lose the services that provide municipalities with the required elements of infrastructure to be a city/town. Out of sight, out of mind until people can’t get running water and sewage starts backing up. No FOG program for businesses, no inspections, no way to fix breaks, back- ups, read meters, samples, locates, flush hydrants so they are ready to go in an emergency, backflow testing, no CO’s on new builds in some places without operators! Many municipality’s have said they can’t afford to pay even mid-range for these positions. If that is true, no employee in the hierarchy should be paid above the low to mid-range. It seems office positions are paid at the top third, and blue collar jobs are paid at the minimum of a faulty salary survey. You can’t pay the max to some (salary increases for the year that are higher than the annual salary of an experienced operator) and expect the rest to continue working at the lowest justifiable rate you could find. If you have a high turnover rate, identify the issue, and correct it. If you have been told by 95% of your employees as they move on the reason, and you choose to ignore it, you are part of the problem. I know many are being recruited at work because some places have caught on to the information and are capitalizing on it. If you understand the value of your operators, and public works employees, you would make sure you were keeping your assets. They save you millions with their experience and knowledge. They work hard, in crummy weather and keep things flowing. Most that I know are always willing to help, wherever they are needed. They give up their holidays, they don’t get time off from October to May because of snow. They quietly subject themselves to extreme conditions, HEAVY physical labor that destroys their bodies, and let’s be real, some gross stuff. I’m pretty sure that being called out to pull a condom off a float in a lift station at 3am during a blizzard when you are already plowing the roads should pay better than wages that are low enough to qualify for assistance programs. These people are to proud to take that route though. They keep at it until the right offer comes along, and will say the same thing at their exit interview as the people before them. I wanted to stay, but I could no longer afford to. I believe my position has been misclassified. I repeatedly asked for it to be looked into, and was told someone like me wouldn’t understand a salary survey. A salary survey is only as good as the person who conducts it. They rely on job description, but when you match responsibilities that don’t require expertise and certifications, you immediately downgrade the job. Look at how long postings have been up on hiring sites. You can’t find qualified people because they have found places that value their contributions. Most places don’t try to hire at the minimum pay for a classification and then prevent future growth. How in the world will you find CDL drivers for these rates of pay, not to mention everything else these operators have? It appears that there is a large misconception about the work and skill set. I don’t think it’s understood that the cert level dictates what they are able to do on what size system. When you don’t have operators certified to run your system, you can’t work your own system. Look up RFP bids for CCTV and jetting, lift station maintenance, etc. How can you NOT justify higher pay for these people? Who is held accountable when it all becomes contracted work at Davis Bacon wages? Who has to explain the rationale behind the choices made? These people doing these jobs aren’t expecting to make 6 figures a year. They became proficient in a specific skill set that should be compensated fairly for the knowledge, exposure to elements, physicality, certifications, and a small premium for the gross factor. How do you justify places like Burger King, grocery stores, Walmart and Hobby Lobby having higher starting rates of pay? Their CDL’s alone are worth more than that. If they continue to try and hire at the rates of pay I am seeing, people will apply to get a sponsored CDL, then quit once they have it for a 30% increase in pay. You will turn your municipality’s into a revolving door of people who are using the ability to get a CDL with the new rules in 2022, or certifications, and then leave. You lose productivity and people that are invested in the place they work and live. Once you have to start hiring outside your town’s limits, you will start a cycle of turnover. If your municipal employee doesn’t live in the place they work, the response time is longer. They have a commute, and will keep an eye out for postings where they live. They may be less likely to volunteer for your parades and extra events because it’s not their home. You are forcing your own people out the door, then ask why? You have all the answers, if you really want to figure it out. Any position/person responsible for such a high turnover rate for a critical job to a company would be without their job if it wasn’t corrected. How does this continue in the public sector? The benefits used to make up for some of the lack of pay, but that is no longer the case. Many private sector employers offer benefits that are just as good, if not better. Other municipalities also have benefits that are just as good, if not better. That means your pay has to be market rate or better for retention and to attract qualified candidates, especially in this market.


Happynessisawarmgun

Sometimes low wages on these blue collar technical type jobs are due to an ideological elitist slant from members of the city council or Management or the sanitation board members or all of the above. They don’t think you should make a prevailing wage for your work because it’s unskilled labor. If you were worth your salt you wouldn’t be even working for a municipality you’d have a “real job” in the “real world”. They also do manipulate salary surveys, it’s intentional by design and rarely are they transparent about how it’s compiled. The best thing you can do for yourself is just leave. They will keep stringing you along hoping to get a raise to get another year of service from you because that’s their game plan.


Agitated-Ant-2938

I think that realization came this week. Discrepancies about the salary survey were actually brought up by the board, and yet nothing was done. One particular municipality paid a huge, inflated fee for a “Salary Survey” that was nothing more than a breakdown of the survey the municipal services league gives it’s members. They could have had the info for what they already pay for their membership. Instead, they paid a person for the info they already had access to, and lost just about their entire workforce. I think I believed it would be corrected with a greater than 90% turnover rate, but obviously, the joke is on me. First, it was that a new salary survey would be done, then it was that the municipality was too small, then COVID, then told HR has ignored the supervisors and public work’s director about the validity of the salary survey, but they are trying. It’ll be another year and another salary survey, then it’ll have to be budgeted for the following fiscal year. The fact of the matter is that if they wanted to correct it, they would. They can absolutely re-evaluate the positions with extreme turnover and get a motion to the board to correct (or partially correct) the issue. They rely on people who do what I have done and try to stick it out until it’s corrected. It used to mean something to stick with a place, but it looks like those days are long gone. Our area specifically has one municipality with one person left, one with zero and another under a cease and desist order for reasons that aren’t known to me. Even if they don’t care about the employees, you would think they’d have a better understanding of the financial implications of losing your entire workforce. It’s going to cost them dearly once they have to contract out all the work. I thought that may be the catalyst for some action.


Happynessisawarmgun

They could offer an immediate good faith 10% raise and retention bonus of $10k to keep you if they wanted to until the next salary study is complete. But it’s not part of the political game their playing. Or your states’ EPA enforcement isn’t punitive and it’s just cheaper to pay enforcement fines. There is a plant in CA that did this bonus and raise a couple years ago and they just got another 10% raise. All due to staffing, recruitment and retention challenges. The plant manager made it happen with support from the public works dept. I work at 2 municipalities, one is FT and the other is PT. I took the part time job because they had staffing challenges due to the pay scale and work load. The pay wasn’t great but I got pension service credits so it was a good deal for me. This faculty also had a contract operator for $105 per hour for almost 2 years because nobody would apply for the position. We got a 20% raise this year because of the expense of the contract operator and being short staffed. $105\hr for 2 years is like $440k but that’s what it took for the city to pull its head out of its ass. So yeah, start interviewing for positions in other states. The west coast pays well. Some larger plants in Florida also pay well. Nevada is OK. An Operator III or Lead can make $45-$55+ per hour here in CA.


Agitated-Ant-2938

That’s helpful information. Thank you. I think I had the wake up call after they announced a 26% raise for the city manager, and told the public works employees the city is too small to pay the market rate. I believed the, “Next year, it will be better.” Line for three years. I love my boss. He’s great at what he does, and has a wealth of knowledge. I almost feel like I’d be letting him down if I leave too, and I don’t want to do that. I also think he has given up trying to fight the pay because he said the HR department will do nothing. He’s tried for years. The same HR department (person) that it took a year to correct my rate of pay. Even when it was corrected, they didn’t bother to back pay it. I don’t think there’s a thorough understanding of what the legal requirements of their job are. Multiple people asked to have their new classifications looked into after the salary survey. They blew it off. At a state level, they legally have to look into it within 30 days. I’m not sure exactly how that works with a municipality, but where do you go when the issue is the department/person directly responsible for the issue. They found the person who did the salary survey, they reclassified people, they changed their rates of pay, they had no answers when the town board presented questions/concerns with the salary survey. The same department that said parks maintenance techs are paid more than water/wastewater operators because they have to have a medical examiner’s card. I don’t think they realize what that is, and that all of their CDL drivers have one. I’m also on the collections side. I believe EPA enforcement is much heavier on the plant/treatment side. They have been cracking down here, but I believe it’s on the plant side of things for the most part.


Happynessisawarmgun

There is nothing else I can tell you other than move on and leave. You’re being exploited so people at the top can claim how efficient the utilities are run so they can get big raises. It’s called socialism and it sucks. Collections is a lower pay rate with less responsibility here. I don’t know what they make but I’m sure it’s in the upper $30-40 an hour in CA maybe more. Think about where you want to relocate to and start looking for a job. Make a plan and follow through with it. Good luck!


Independent_Bid8670

Yes it is insanely expensive here, and just finding a place to live is a challenge, and i do agree with 90 % of the above comments. However with my waste water supplemental pay plus housing stipend(which is going up) , means I make close to fifty an hour now. Plus ot, oncall,13 holidays . I'll break 100k this year. We are reviewing our pay scale currently, and have approved a 250k down payment assistance program on top of offered employee housing. Things are getting better but you'll never be "rich" here. Buried by snow is a plus or minus depending on who you are but generally living between two world class ski resort makes it a good thing. Just throwing it out there. If you wanna escape suburban purgatory and do stuff everyday people pay 10k a week for while making a living and padding your resume this is a good place for that person. If you want a 3k square foot mcmansion and a boat you use twice a year it won't be for you.


Happynessisawarmgun

If you are making $50 a hour that’s over $100k per year without OT or any other compensation. Sometimes you need to embellish your situation so it doesn’t appear as shitty as it really is.


Andrmor27

Do Colorado transfer ohio licenses ?


Independent_Bid8670

They should have reciprocity.


doodoobutter781

That all depends on if you want to make our state like yours or you want to keep Texas as is.


potato208

I was just in Vail for a wedding. Beautiful place.