County mulls higher wages for jail maintenance workers

Originally published in the 9/1/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News. 

BILLINGS — Being able to keep maintenance staff for the Yellowstone County Detention facility has become problematic, reported Greg Erpenbach, facilities superintendent for Yellowstone County.

Erpenbach joined Dwight Vigness, Human Resources director, on Monday, to recommend to County Commissioners that they offer a higher rate of pay to keep and recruit maintenance workers specifically for the jail.

Such a proposal would have to be approved by the public employees’ union representative, said Vigness, who was cautious about raising wages to solve the problem. Vigness said his primary worry about addressing the problem in this way is that it could trigger a “me, too” response from other county departments, many of which are having their own hiring difficulties. A tight labor market is having its impact on county hiring as much as it is for businesses in the community.

“With unemployment as low as it is, it is a chronic issue,” said Commissioner Denis Pitman.

Vigness said that maintenance workers for the jail could be viewed as ... Read full story in this week’s print edition on stands today and mailboxes tomorrow or by finding a location with our newspaper.