But when committee Chairman Philip McLain presented those plans to the full board at Thursday night’s meeting, board members decided drivers deserved a bigger raise.
County bus drivers get paid a little more than $58 for one round-trip route per day by current pay scales. For years, bus drivers who opt to pick up additional routes throughout the day were only getting $3.43 extra.
“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, (the drivers) only get $3.43 a day extra for double the work,” Finance Director Brad Hale said. When board member Mary Beth Dellinger asked how long the pay scale had been that way, Hale said the rates haven’t been changed in at least 30 years.
The Finance Committee’s initial recommendation was to raise second-route payments to $15, but when McLain presented that to the board, Clarence Mabe said he thought drivers should get more, suggesting that drivers get $25 extra for picking up a second route.
Special Projects Manager Jarrod Adams said the county is still short about 10 bus drivers, and that the county is currently paying overtime for bus mechanics to run routes. Because increasing the pay for extra routes would increase incentive for existing drivers to pick up additional routes, Hale explained that it would actually save money in the long run.
“The feedback we’ve received, it’s going to solve a lot of our driver shortage problems,” Hale said. “Every time we have an existing driver pick up that second route instead of having to hire another driver we’re going to save about $8,100 a year, and that’s not including fixed costs, that’s just base salary.”
Board members agreed that the pay should be even higher than $15, so Todd Ganger amended the original motion to increase the pay to $20 and take effect immediately. Mabe suggested increasing the base pay for drivers to $65 per day with $20 for additional routes, but Hale cautioned that he would prefer to work those numbers out before increasing base pay.
The board unanimously passed the pay increase, which will take effect immediately.
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