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Vinton‘s public works department faces staffing shortages

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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VINTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Staffing shortages are impacting almost every industry, including local governments.

The Town of Vinton has six vacancies in its public works department and the director said it is taking longer for jobs to get done.

“We’re pretty behind schedule. It’s hard to give people certain time frames that we can come down and complete a job,” Director Bo Herndon said.

Herndon’s workforce is down by 20%. Some of those vacancies have been open for a while, and the pandemic made finding skilled workers even harder, he said.

“To bring somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience right off the street, that’s a challenge,” Herndon said.

The department is pulling resources, moving employees and prioritizing projects in an effort to work efficiently.

“We can come back and mow the grass, but when it is a water break, we have to be spot on and have enough guys to take care of that water break,” Herndon said.

To help attract workers, the town is adding incentives like training programs and opportunities to make more money.

“Just as our employees invest so much in our community and town, we want the town to invest in our employees,” Assistant Town Manager Cody Sexton said.

Herndon said he is proud of his current crew but hopes to alleviate some of their stress and workload soon.

“They work hard. They are appreciative that they have a job. But at the end of the day, they’re tired,” he said.

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