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Overton Considering Its Options To Fill County Positions

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Overton Considering Its Options To Fill County Positions

Overton County, like many Upper Cumberland Counties are struggling to find and retain employees.

County Executive Ben Danner said there was a time when the benefits included with a county job were viewed highly. However, with the push to raise wages in the private sector even falling flat in some industries, it is difficult to bring people in for emergency service jobs at current wages.

“Everybody in the public, when they call 911 they want somebody qualified… paramedic, EMT, they want a deputy, policeman to come out that’s qualified and knows what they’re doing,” Danner said. “The question is, do we want to pay on property tax enough to be able to keep those qualified people here.”

Danner said that a property tax increase is not the only solution for Overton County. Danner said there are considerations to use the American Rescue Plan funding for pay increases to keep employees and potentially bring new people in.

“To me, that’s the best alternative that we have other than property taxes,” Danner said. “I think everybody else, If we put it on a ballot would agree if they wanted us to use these federal COVID funds or raise their property tax. I’m sure it would overwhelmingly pass to use the federal funds so that’s what we’re going to try to do and see if that helps the situation.”

Danner said the hiring issue used to be about losing employees to larger counties like Putnam County, but now he said even Putnam is losing employees to counties in the Nashville area. Danner said it has not been that long since $10-$12 an hour as a starting wage was a good position, but when even food service jobs are offering more than that and cannot operate fully, it creates an alarming situation.

“The reality for county government is, we’re going to be hard pressed to get someone to work at the jail for $12 an hour,” Danner said. “The job is worth twice what we’re paying them and they put themselves at risk to help the county out and I wish there was some way we could get the pay higher.”

Danner said it extends beyond just emergency services and law enforcement. Danner said counties are even seeing it with hiring people for office jobs.

“We’ve raised those, they were minimum wage, we had people working here 20 years that didn’t make $20,000 back seven years ago,” Danner said. “We’re at least $11 an hour for all positions but we’ve had a position in one of the offices that’s been open about four months and it’s $11.25 and it’s just hard to find people to work for that wage.”

Danner said he has talked with the mayors in Robertson and Williamson Counties and even they are experiencing the same hiring problems. He said that even without legislation requiring it, there is a feeling that offering a $15 minimum wage will be a reality to have smart, strong employees.


The post Overton Considering Its Options To Fill County Positions appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.