Ulster County seeks return of retired DPW workers on part-time basis


KINGSTON – Ulster County’s Department of Public Works reported low employment numbers in their 2021 operational budget during a Public Works and Capital Projects Committee meeting Wednesday evening.

In response to that, the county has launched a pilot program to encourage retired employees to return on part-time basis, specifically for snow plowing. The pilot will save over $100,000 for the department’s budget

DPW Commissioner Thomas Jackson said they had already wanted to implement the program and the pandemic has created the right set of circumstances to do so. 

“There are a couple of things we’re accomplishing through this. One of them is, really, we always have a certain amount of attrition and it’s nice to bring somebody back who’s got experience. Being able to bring them back, post-retirement, gives them some extra income while they’re on retirement and it’s really a win-win,” said Jackson. “It’s not so much because of a shortage of funding. We’ve wanted to do this for several years and never have been able to pull the trigger on it,” he said.

There are 45 snowplow runs in the county, excluding the number of county properties that need to be plowed in the winter. Having part-time employment in this manner allows the county to save money on staffing while still having an experienced individual that they already know.

Additionally, the county is looking to take on apprentices for bridge work. The committee said the county has had a long history of renowned bridge workers and projects, but a large number of their skilled workers are retiring. Jackson said they are entertaining taking on young apprentices who are motivated and have the right natural skills to do the hard labor, sometimes at height.

Regardless, they are expecting a number of bridge jobs will be contracted out and will continue to tighten the belt in other areas to be able to provide high-level service while also dealing with the financial restrictions thrust upon them by the pandemic. 

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