150 apply for two jobs with City of Poulsbo

POULSBO — More than 150 candidates applied for two open positions at the City of Poulsbo, marking the first time the city will hire new staff since cutting 11 percent of its workforce to save money last year.

Fifty-five people applied for a mechanic position in Public Works and more than 100 applied for a receptionist position with the Parks and Recreation Department, city Human Resources Manager Deanna Kingery said. That turnout is typical, if not slightly higher, than when the city has previously advertised jobs.

"We usually have a fairly healthy response when we have open positions. I think the city's usually been a good employer," Kingery said.

Every department in the city was affected last year when the city implemented a Voluntary Separation Agreement, which provided incentives to employees willing to leave their jobs. The program was designed to avoid involuntary layoffs and help shore up an anticipated $1.2 million budgetary shortfall in 2011, which it did. The city reduced staff size from 91 full-time equivalent positions to 80.5 FTEs. Many of those who continued to work for the city saw changes in their job descriptions and increased responsibilities.

"We cut as much as we possibly could. We're running pretty bare bones right now," said Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, who instituted the program last summer.

It's standard practice for department heads to review with the mayor whether a position should be filled when an employee decides to leave, Kingery said. When a longtime Parks and Recreation employee announced she would be moving out-of-state this year, there was no question whether her position would be filled. Further staff cuts wouldn't be possible without major service reduction, Erickson said.

"We jockeyed people around within the city to fill those holes in. Now when we lose people we're going to replace them," she said. "We're not going with positions unfilled."

Remaining staff continue to adjust to the new City Hall and its accompanying logistical challenges. The size of the building and distance between various departments has led to difficulties with the phone system and increased the need to direct citizens looking to pay their bills or attend a meeting. City leaders are considering creating a new position, a common receptionist for the building, but it has yet to be determined if the cost can be absorbed, Erickson said.

Kingery said she is optimistic, and glad the city is hiring instead of cutting more jobs.

"I think, with all of the changes that occurred last year, it was difficult. This year, we've moved into the new building, we're moving forward," she said.

Applications are no longer being accepted for the open positions.

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