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City behind in filling vacant positions
• Request for new HR employee delayed due to absent council
Ceres City Hall
Ceres City Hall.

City Manager Doug Dunford wants to add a new Human Resources position to the city operation to expedite the filling of a large number of vacancies.

The request to add a new position of Human Resources technician at a cost of $108,276 was on Monday’s agenda but was pulled by Dunford. He told the Courier that with the absence of Councilman Daniel Martinez, he didn’t feel like the request would receive the three votes needed for approval so it was postponed for consideration of the full council.

In his staff report, Dunford said the workload spread across the current three and a half employees is too great.

The city has been experiencing difficulty in retaining skilled and qualified candidates and the city’s HR Department is “increasingly challenged with meeting the demands of the sudden influx in recruitments,” noted Dunford.

He reported that the city is actively recruiting to fill 25 full-time and 15 part-time positions for summer recreation programs.

High turnover has occurred within the Ceres Police Department with police officers and dispatchers while the Public Works Department is experiencing significant turnover due to attrition. 

To cope temporarily, the HR Department had used a part-time extra help employee but lost that individual to full-time work.

“This has left a significant strain on the remaining staff who are struggling to balance their day-to-day duties and responsibilities.”

In normal times, the city would be recruiting about 12 positions per year. That number is double and the focus on filling positions has impacted the ability to focus on other HR responsibilities which is “significantly impacting our employees and creates liability to the city as most functions are required by federal and state law,” Dunford concluded.

He outlined that it takes on average of over 30 hours of staff time to hire one employee, which includes entering information into the software programs for benefits, wages, etc. The city’s HR cost to get one employee onboard is approximately $2,002.

In 2023 the city also processed 60 employee terminations which can take about five hours per employee.

He noted that Lodi has a population of 67,021 residents yet has five full-time HR employees who process an average of nine employees each month. Turlock, he pointed out, has 72,682 residents yet 10 HR employees who deal with about five recruits per month.