ELKO – The City of Elko is growing and its needs are changing.
The city is currently in the process of hiring four new part-time positions and two full-time positions to fill the ever-growing demands of public service.
“Certainly there is a workload demand at the city that has been building over time,” said Elko City Manager Curtis Calder. “We like to ease into new positions if we can, so part-time positions are a good way to see if the demand is real.”
Calder explained that part-time positions are enough to fill the needs for most of the new positions without costing the city a lot of money. He said the city will pay competitive wages yet save money because they do not have to provide benefits.
Part-time positions the city is hoping to fill are for a water reclamation facility laboratory technician, a human resources technician, a domestic violence systems advocate, and a code enforcement officer.
Calder hopes the laboratory technician will provide relief for the one full-time person at the Elko Water Treatment Plant. According to the job description, the successful applicant will have knowledge of “basic water and wastewater laboratory methods, test procedures and techniques and equipment and safety practices.”
“The lab [position] is funded out of the sewer fund which comes out of rates,” Calder said.
According to Calder, for at least the last 21 years the city has only had one person running the human resources department. Now they are adding a part-time position which may become full-time eventually.
“The domestic violence systems advocate position is being paid for through a state grant,” Calder said. “It’s called the STOP Grant.”
The hope is that the person who fills the job will help the city become more proactive when it comes to domestic violence crimes.
“Domestic violence has always been a problem in Elko,” Calder said. “The police department is designed to be a reactive emergency response agency. We don’t really have the resources to spend on the front end of the problems.”
The position involves public education, tracking statistical data and looking for opportunities where the city can intervene.
“At the end of the year, if it’s been really effective, even if we don’t get state money for it, if we felt it was worth the money, we can fund it,” Calder said.
According to Calder, the City of Elko has never had a code enforcement officer.
“We’ve never been big enough to have one,” he said. “We are starting to see a lot more activity in this area, especially with public nuisances on property.”
Currently, in order to declare a public nuisance on a property, the city has to go through a number of time-consuming and expensive steps. The part-time code enforcement officer will absorb tasks from several different entities within the city and streamline the process.
The city is also hiring a full-time park maintenance employee to work at the Sports Complex. The position will involve daily management of the new park.
“We don’t need to bring that person on until late fall based on the completion of the Sports Complex,” Calder said.
An additional full-time police officer is the final placement opportunity in the city’s docket of new jobs.
“We’ve always needed additional police resources,” Calder said. “We have this ongoing, perpetual recruitment, but it’s difficult to hire new police officers in Elko, Nevada because of our size and our geographic location. We are not an area that attracts a lot of people from the outside world to work in the police force.”
He compared the number of Elko applicants with what Reno might receive and said Elko can usually expect 10 to their 100.
“By the time they go through testing and background checks, people drop out and we have a very small selection pool,” Calder said.
The city offers a very competitive salary and benefits package, and, according to Calder. It is on par with many of the larger western Nevada cities.
When an officer is hired it often takes a full year before that person serves as an independent police officer. Often an applicant will need to attend the Nevada Law Enforcement Academy in Carson City and complete “field training” with a local, experienced officer.
“They have to show them the ropes, safety and how we do things in Elko,” Calder said.
He said the department would have to replace a number of vacancies in the near future due to officers retiring.
The Police Department has the largest number of employees within the city with about 55 people. The city has about 170 employees.
According to Calder, the city has seen an increase in assessed property valuation and the number of properties has increased through growth, providing more money in the general fund.
“The consolidated sales tax revenue has gone up for the past two years,” Calder said. “It makes up about 60 percent of the general fund.”
The city is still in the process of approving and advertising most of the new positions.
“This is just a sign of the times that Elko is getting a little bit bigger and a little more complicated each year, which is predicating the need for additional help in certain areas,” Calder said. “Growth is really paying for all of the positions.”