County ups ante for new park superintendent

·5 min read

Jul. 13—After five months of searching for a new superintendent at West Boggs Park, officials have decided to increase the pay for the job and for other employees at the park.

"The whole premise behind the pay raises is you have to pay your people what they are worth," said outgoing Park Superintendent Jameson Hibbs. "We have to have competitive wages, especially in this day and age, when employers across the country are raising wages to attract employees and they still are having a difficult time getting the right people. If we don't offer competitive wages then we can't get people to apply and once we hire them, we won't be able to keep them. That is part of why I left was for a larger salary."

Hibbs says the park revenues are running $160,000 over budget. That is because of the hard work of the employees and the foresight of the board.

"We want the park to progress. We have good plans, good initiatives underway to increase our capacity at West Boggs, but to do that we will have to pay our employees what they are worth. Their value keeps increasing because the workload increases. Six years ago, the workload was immense but we didn't have the participation rate we have now," said Hibbs. "When you look at the investments we have made, whether they are capital projects, services, or programming we have seen a vast increase in facility use and in turn an increase in the workload for the park employees."

The proposal approved by the Daviess County Council calls for increasing the superintendent's salary from $52,000 to up to $65,000 per year. There were also $6,000 to $8,000 per year increases for other full-time park jobs. Those include $45,000 for the program director, $49,000 for the office manager, $45,000 for the customer service manager, $49,000 for the maintenance manager and $43,500 for the assistant maintenance manager.

"Our hiring committee for our park board has looked at all of the people who have applied for the superintendent's position and they have not wanted to pursue any of those people so far," said Hibbs. "They have a certain person they are looking for with a specific background and that person has not applied yet. I feel with the competitive wage we can provide now will attract qualified candidates."

"We are hoping it brings in the applications for superintendent that we need," said County Council President Matt Meredith. "Jameson was spectacular at that position and he did it for less dollars. We hope we can find someone with his passion for the job. Hopefully, with this increase we can attract the talent that will allow the park to operate where it has for the last six years."

Unlike some of the other parts of the county council's oversight, the West Boggs Park is self-sustaining. It has not taken any county funds since 1996. Meredith says the council was following the lead of the park board.

"We kind of oversee them now. The park board knows what their budget is and that they have those dollars to spend. We feel very comfortable following their suggestion," said Meredith. "This is especially the case knowing what the market is, and they are going to have to use those additional dollars to get the talent that they want. They had the funding. It made sense for them to do it. So, we went along with them."

The lengthy council meeting also resulted in county employees getting an increase in their mileage rate from 42 cents per mile to 48 cents per mile through the end of the year.

"One of the things we get periodically from the state is adjustments on mileage rates. We normally set them once, while the state adjusts quarterly. Of course, the price of gasoline has really gone up. We wanted to be a little bit more competitive with the state rate," said Meredith. "We will review it during budget season, which is coming up in another couple of months."

The council also approved a pair of CF forms updating the tax abatement status for a couple of buildings at WestGate.

They accepted an emergency preparedness contract between the state and the Daviess County Health Department.

The council received an update from the Community Corrections Executive Director Diana Snyder on a pilot program to assist inmates with drug and mental health issues get back into the community. The $269,000 grant funded Integrated Reentry and Correctional Support Program is designed to cut into the recidivism in Daviess County by offering offenders additional counseling.

The council agreed to a $19,000 annual maintenance agreement with Debra-Kumpel for the new HVAC system at the Daviess County Security Center.

The council reappointed Shelly Deem, Kent Norris and Dr. Suresh Lohano to the Daviess County Hospital Board.

The council approved $234,496.39 in additional appropriations including $65,000 for the sheriff's office, $65,000 for the Daviess County Airport, $4,000 for Community Corrections, $60,000 for E-911 equipment, $6,000 for juvenile probation and $4,00 for adult probation fees, $15,000 for West Boggs Park and $15,496 for the Health Department as part of a state grant for monitoring lead levels in children.

The council also approved $14,329 in internal transfers for Community Corrections and $8,000 in fund transfers for the Information Technology Department.

The county council also recognized outgoing Daviess County Auditor Patty Ball for her work with the county over the last 13 years.