Governor Ernie Fletcher’s recent decision to boost the pay grades of entry-level employees is good news for state parks employees and the Department of Parks, Commissioner George Ward said today.
Governor Fletcher recently approved a plan to elevate all interim (seasonal) employees from the two lowest pay grades – Grades 3 and 4 -- to Grade 5. The beginning hourly wage of $7.09 replaces the $5.86 per hour paid to grade 3 workers in past summers. Year round employees in the lowest pay category were moved from Grade 5 to Grade 6, a 70 cent per hour increase. The changes affect about 350 parks positions.
“Our front-line employees are critical to the operation of our park system,” Ward said. “From front-desk clerks to waitresses to cooks, they are the friendly faces that greet our guests when they visit our parks. Behind the scenes are mechanics, groundskeepers, and other employees who keep our parks running smoothly and efficiently. We value everything they do, and we’re gratified that Governor Fletcher has acted to upgrade these positions.”
The new compensation schedule will benefit the park system in two ways, Ward said.
“First, we will be able to give our lowest-paid employees a well-deserved raise,” Ward said. “In our pursuit of developing the nation’s best state park system, we ask a lot of our employees. I am gratified that we can provide an additional incentive to our dedicated workers.”
The higher compensation schedules also will make the department more appealing as an employer for future workers.
“We’re always looking for new talent to replace our experienced employees that choose to retire,” Ward said. “Competitive pay is important in attracting hard-working, service-oriented employees.” The department employs workers in a variety of entry-level jobs.
In the summer, the department expands its staff to accommodate the increased business that vacationers bring. During these months, the department adds interim employees to carry out important tasks, from lifeguards to recreation staff.
“We rely heavily on such interim employees to provide outstanding customer service during our busiest times,” Ward said. “It is critical that we do everything we can to recruit the best employees for these positions. Offering a more competitive wage will help us meet that goal.”