City transfers employees after trimming departments
Twelve city of Grand Junction employees have lost their jobs since the start of 2009, but they are still working for the city.
When their jobs in administration, public works and planning, and neighborhood services became superfluous because of workload slowdowns, the city decided to see whether those people wanted to try something new.
At a small-scale job fair, the city presented other jobs in other departments to the employees and asked them where they’d like to go, according to City Manager Laurie Kadrich. The city used the employees’ preferences and background to help place them in new jobs that either were open after an employee left the city or had been created in the 2009 or 2010 budgets but never were filled.
Some of the shuffled employees settled into the police, fire and utilities departments and the 911 call center. Half of the employees went to the parks and recreation department, where one is working in golf services, one registers people for recreation programs, and four work on park operations, such as planting flowers and cleaning shelters.
For some, everything about their job changes is new to them. Others have experience in their new fields or can use skills they learned in their previous job. One of Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber’s new employees, for example, used her experience putting together bid packages in the city’s purchasing department to organize a program for downtown merchants.
Schoeber welcomed the flood of new employees, especially after losing 13 positions in the past two years because of attrition. While departments such as planning had less to do during a slowdown in development and economic activity, Schoeber’s department has only gotten busier the past couple years.
“Any time you go through a job change it’s stressful to begin with, but everyone has handled it very professionally,” he said.
Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore said the balancing act of making employment levels match development-application volumes meant taking staff levels back to late-1990s levels. Moore said he believes the department has the right amount of staff, and he wishes his former employees well in their new departments.
“I think, by and large, most people are pretty satisfied keeping with the city and trying something new,” Moore said.
Changing jobs meant people received about the same benefits they had at their previous positions in the city, but salary differences after the switches were “all over the board,” city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said.
All 12 employees who changed jobs in-house declined to be interviewed for this article.
Since January 2009, 29 people have left the city through early retirement, 21 positions have been vacated but not filled, and 10 jobs that were authorized in the 2009 budget have not been filled. The city has experienced drops in sales tax collections during that period and has readjusted its budget with fresh cuts as early as six weeks ago.