Director Ness discusses salary needs on Idaho Reports

ITD Director Brian Ness described the challenges of managing a state agency with no employee raises and high turnover when he participated in an Idaho Public Television (IPTV) edition of Idaho Reports over the weekend.

The one-hour Idaho Reports was carried statewide on IPTV’s digital channels beginning Friday. Several repeat airings followed.

Ness recorded a segment at ITD Headquarters Wednesday that emphasizes the loss of employees to the private sector and other public agencies because state salaries lag behind those of other employers. An employee of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality also was interviewed and was part of the Idaho Reports program.

After Director Ness's segment on Idaho Public Television, IPTV reporter Greg Hahn and guests Reps. Marv Hagedorn and Shirley Ringo discussed state employee salaries and several bills under consideration in the Idaho Legislature to fund raises.

Ness told Hahn that high turnover at ITD is decimating critical positions, such as Transportation Technician workers. The turnover rate exceeds 50 percent in some ITD districts, the director said.

“We are becoming the farm team for other states, governmental agencies and the private sector. They are recruiting our staff by offering more money once they are trained and get experience.”

Ness also described the loss of key employees during his presentation recently to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC), and supported the message with a short Oregon Department of Transportation recruiting advertisement aired last year on KBOI radio in Boise.

ITD makes a considerable investment in employees in the form of recruiting, interviewing job applicants, providing training for new workers and helping them secure the appropriate professional credentials if necessary. Too often, those promising employees are lost to higher paying jobs outside the department, Ness said.

The solution, in large part, is to pay employees competitive salaries.

“It is critical to our goal of becoming the best transportation department in the country,” Ness said.

Published 2-24-2012