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County approves extra vacation to retain employee

It doesn’t happen very often, but one way Kitsap County can compete with other governments headhunting their best staff is to offer a bump up in vacation time.

The Board of County Commissioners Monday gave Kitsap County Resources Conservation manager Autumn Salamack an extra week of vacation each year going forward for four years and a one-time bonus of 16 extra vacation hours in an effort to keep her from taking a job elsewhere.

Kitsap County Special Projects manager Eric Baker made the recommendation to the BOCC on Monday, which commissioners approved on the consent agenda. It’s just one of a “host of tools” that the county could use to keep a valued employee, he said.

An increase in salary to retain a staff member becomes a larger discussion that involves unions, but other areas of compensation can be considered, Barker said.

“Actual salary is a larger issue,” Baker said. “That was never part of the discussion.”

Salamack has been with the county for a year and is considered “key” to the county’s conservation efforts. According to Baker, she has helped put Kitsap County on the national map for energy conservation.

“It would be tough to bring [a replacement] up to speed quickly,” Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said.

Garrido said that Salamack acted as the county’s guide through conservation efforts and that her role was “critical” in the county’s investments in conservation with federal dollars. Salamack leads Energy Efficiency & Conservation Plan which was adopted last year. The goal is to reduce countywide energy use by 30 percent by 2020, with the energy year 2009 as a baseline. The program also seeks to encourage renewable energy use with a goal of 10 percent by 2020.

Salamack had recently received at least one offer of work closer to her hometown, she then asked the county for more vacation time as incentive to stay on the job.

“It’s all she needed to stay here,” Garrido said.

Baker said that only the BOCC has the power to increase a staff member’s benefit package. In this case the recommendation was that Salamack be given the same amount of vacation a person with three times the time on the job than she has, which is three weeks.

In recent months, as the county leadership started to face the 2013 budget cycle, Dist. 1 Commissioner Rob Gelder has floated the idea of perhaps reducing the total number of staff in an effort to give better pay as a way to keep effective and talented people from job hopping.

Barker cited Slamack’s situation as one example of that kind of thinking.

 

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