Every year, over 50 part-time marina workers, park personnel, crossing guards, bridge tenders, and code and parking enforcement officers are hired by South Haven.

However, for the past few years, new applicants for those positions in the city in Michigan have been sparse.

As a result, and a lack of people coming back, local officials have increased hourly pay and held a job fair this month to boost recruitment efforts.

Members of the city council approved a $90,000 increase in the seasonal pay budget for 44 part-time workers earlier this month.


This means the starting hourly rate for marina dock hands will go from $11.36 to $14 for first-year employees.

While the starting hourly rate for crossing guards, bridge tenders, parking and code enforcement, and parks and cemetery staff would rise from $11.36 to $15.

All part-time employees will receive pay increases for each additional year they work.

Kim Wise, city human resources director said: “We have struggled to recruit seasonal staff the past two years due to COVID-19, ‘The Great Resignation’ and low wages,”  

“Wages the city has offered seem to be the biggest obstacle to overcome.”

Wise mentioned the problem the city has had in attracting park and cemetery maintenance employees during the summer months in recent years.

As a result of the difficulty, the city has turned to a number of landscaping contractors to help fill in the gaps, as well as paying department of public works staff overtime to ensure that basic tasks are done.

Wise added: “We budget for 10 seasonal parks/cemetery workers, but have only been able to recruit three staff members the past two years, when we cannot hire enough seasonal staff to pick up trash, clean bathrooms, or mow the lawns, we have to ask our full-time DPW staff to complete those tasks, which results in an abundance of overtime at a higher rate of pay.”

In analyzing a new pay structure for part-time employees, city officials looked at pay charts for other towns. They found South Haven’s hourly rates to be low.

Wise continued: “Recently staff reviewed the Michigan Municipal League’s annual salary survey and found that the average pay for seasonal workers is close to $13 per hour.

“A review of local job openings posted on Indeed found that local starting wages for entry-level positions were being offered at approximately $14 to $15 per hour.”

South Haven did offer a 25-cent bonus per hour for all hours worked if the employee stayed through the end of the season, but officials determined that pay rates were still too low for seasonal workers.

Wise said: “We have worked diligently to keep our staff safe during the COVID pandemic and we strive to provide a rewarding and meaningful work environment to keep employee turnover low.

“Now we need to offer more competitive wages for seasonal staff so that we can recruit enough workers to keep our town running smoothly.”

Job openings are for people aged 15 and older, Wise said.

The jobs available for teens are at the municipal marinas where customer service and dock hands are needed.

For the other seasonal and part-time jobs, applicants must be at least 18.

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) will also be at the job fair recruiting on-call firefighters – another position that is getting harder to fill for fire departments throughout the nation.

SHAES Administrator and Fire Chief Brandon Hinz said: “We will be recruiting for paid-on-call, career and prospects for our new cadet program,” However, SHAES will focus on paid-on-call recruits at the fair.

“In the past, we haven’t had to recruit paid-on-call members, they just always found us,” Hinz said. “These past few years we haven’t had as many applicants as we once did. We’re fortunate to have a great crew now, but inevitably at some point we’ll have to replace some.”

Source: South Haven Tribune

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