Responding to rising inflation and numerous unfilled employee positions at the Town of Castle Rock, the city council approved an additional $1.6 million to increase pay for staff and offer a monthly stipend for entry level positions.
On July 19, Castle Rock Town Manager David Corliss told the council the town is having a hard time filling open jobs, particularly entry-level positions, on top of seeing an increase in staff departures. According to the town’s career portal, 48 positions are seeking applicants.
“We’re not able to find, in many cases, people to apply or people we can hire and we know that our competitors in the labor market are increasing compensation for their employees as well in response to the inflation,” he said. “One of our main areas of concern is entry-level positions. When it starts snowing, and I know it’s kind of hard to think about that, will (the town) have enough snowplow drivers?”
Corliss said many employees and applicants are drawn to other area employers who have raised wages and can offer better pay, including the county. Douglas County Commissioners recently voted to increase staff wages by 4%, along with some stipends.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer inflation hit an 8.3% annual rate in May, which dropped from earlier in the year from over 9%. The current inflation rate is still close to the area’s 40-year high, per the Denver Post.
He proposed an across-the-board increase of either $1 per hour for employees making below $70,000 per year or a 3% annual increase for staff earning over $70,000 per year. Additionally, for employees below the $70,000 mark, Corliss recommended a $250 monthly stipend.
The raises would start from July 9, via backpay, and continue throughout the year. In total, the changes would cost the town around $1.6 million.
Though some council members raised concerns about a potential recession, Corliss said the town’s finances are budgeted conservatively and the proposal is mindful of potential economic changes. The town’s budget is also in a good spot with Corliss noting that sales tax collections are up double-digits over last year.
“The risk of not doing it, is something that I can’t recommend,” Corliss said. “My worry is that we will be further behind our competitors and we will not attract and retain the employees we need in order to provide the services we have. Our most important asset is our employees.”
In addition to the wage increases, the town has also hired a recruiter to help fill key jobs.
Mayor Jason Gray agreed the town should prioritize keeping and hiring employees now while in a positive financial situation.
“Recession might be coming, but inflation is here, so it’s hard to figure out what to do with that, but I’d hate to lose good employees or not be able to get good employees because we don’t implement something like this,” Gray said.
Council members unanimously approved the 2022 budget amendment to for the adjustment to employee pay.