Buckeye adds eight full-time positions
The continued growth of the town of Buckeye warrants the community of West Valley adding new positions.
The town, under a 6-1 decision at Buckeye Town Council’s regular meeting on Jan. 18, is credited with growing fast enough to add eight new full-time positions.
Even with many parts of the city’s growth, economy, and analysis in flux, the council accepted testimony from employees across multiple departments struggling to keep up with the pace of work.
After a long discussion, only Councilor Jeanine Guy voted against adding the new positions.
Buckeye will add two positions in development services, four in engineering, one in community services and one in water services, at a total cost of $380,000 in fiscal year 2022.
These eight positions will likely also appear on proposed departmental budgets for fiscal year 2023.
No one at the meeting disputed whether the departments needed help.
The debate was between using consultants or temp labor, which is more expensive but more easily terminated, versus adding staff that the city expects to retain during more sustained growth.
A few councilors seemed unconvinced of the need to opt for full-time positions after an initial presentation from Deputy City Manager Dave Roderique. However, after Mayor Eric Orsborn called several managers to the podium to outline the needs of their departments, a near-unanimous vote followed in no time.
Buckeye has doubled in size over the past 10 years and now has a population of approximately 101,000, with numerous commercial and residential construction projects in various stages of development.
Guy said she fears the intense growth Buckeye is enduring will be short-lived. Although the city receives a huge increase in revenue from development fees, it is not sustainable revenue, as Buckeye will only collect property tax from these developments after construction is complete.
“Other than a major retailer and these (11) residential projects, that’s it,” Guy said. “What happens when the police and fires hit us for more staff, and we’ve committed so much money to development-type employees?”
Orsborn said he recently attended a “come to Jesus” meeting, where developers lambasted the city for being slow to approve, process and issue permits and other key building documents.
Councilor Craig Heustis said he fears businesses will go elsewhere if the city’s reputation for slowness persists.
“If we hire too many people and we don’t need them, we’ll fire them,” Heustis said.
While Orsborn and some advisers made various faces when Heustis made this statement, the conversation continued and other less drastic compromises were introduced.
Noting that it could take at least a month or two to advertise, locate, hire and train eight new employees, Guy recommended a cap of $500,000 on a combination of new positions and workforce funding from consultants/agencies.
Councilor Clay Goodman said it might be time to ‘pump the brakes’ and assess labor needs as the city expects a full independent labor study -work and practices be completed within the next month.
Roderique said the consultant/agency’s estimated fees for the remainder of fiscal year 2022 would be $570,000. He also said that continuing on this path will have limited impact, as the work of some positions cannot be outsourced to consulting companies.
The board approved the addition of a Permit Technician II and Building Inspector III to the Developmental Services Department, which remains at “extremely high volumes” of workload, a staff report says.
The Engineering Department will engage a Development Agreement/Impact Fee Manager, Addressing Technician, Project Engineer, and Permit II Technician.
Water Services will hire a senior civil engineer to handle plan reviews, water and wastewater capital improvement projects, and water inquiries. Community Services will hire a “Planner I,” who will be responsible for ensuring city plans are followed in terms of quality development that has usable park spaces, connects pathways, and preserves open spaces.