Ocean City Today

Public Works, OCPD account for small turnover increase

By Katie Tabeling | Sep 28, 2017

(Sept. 29, 2017) Although it remains to be seen whether working Ocean City’s weekend events is directly causing police officers and public works employees to seek employment elsewhere, the town, overall, has logged a few more departures this year over last.

“We have certain divisions that are pushed to the limit during the peak summer and the shoulder season,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins said. “Some of my staff are here seven days a week, because that’s what it takes to run the number of events planned on weekends, and do their core duties — but I can’t say we lose people over it.”

Last week, the council discussed limiting officer assistance for some special events on weekends, as it limits their free time. Seven officers left last year, citing quality of life issues. City officials said that some departing officers pointed to working weekends as the problem.

Thirty-three city employees left their jobs in 2016, with a majority of them at either the Public Works or Police departments. Last year Public Works lost 11 of its budgeted 193 full-time employees. Of those, five retired and six people “separated,” by resigning, dying or being discharged.

“The retirement rate does not surprise me at all, since I have employees that work here for 30 years,” Adkins said. “As for the separations, three people came to fill one position but left over time because the job wasn’t what they thought it would be. The other three that left were in Boardwalk maintenance and there were some concerns with working too many hours.”

In comparison, Ocean City Police had 10 people leave the ranks, including civilian staff, of its 132 employees. None of those employees retired.

Other government departments logged low numbers for turnover in comparison. The Fire Department, including emergency medical services and the Fire Marshal’s Office, had four people leave. Three of those employees retired.

General government employees lost three staff members, and Recreation and Parks had two employees retire. The convention center, communications department and information technology all lost one staff member.

Those departments, however, aren’t as busy during the summer like police or public works. Both departments bring on several seasonal staff; this year police brought on 140 officers and public safety aides.

Public Works sought 87 people to fill laborer positions this summer. The help is needed, Adkins said, because the department is kept busy with prep work for several summer events in addition to their core duties like trash collection, Boardwalk sweeping and striping streets.

“There is a level of burnout, and I acknowledge that,” Adkins said. “During staff meetings, we reinforce that we’re right there with them, but this is what it takes to get the job done. With the number of events added, one must acknowledge that we’ll reach a breaking point unless we give up those duties sooner or later.”

This year so far, 36 employees separated from the Ocean City government. Eight Public Works employees retired and five employees separated from the department.

Ocean City Police lost 12 employees including civilian staff members and retirements.

Human Resources expects to fill eight vacant officer positions by Jan. 1, 2018, pending background checks on candidates.

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