VALLEJO – The Benicia City Council is scheduled to hold its first in-person meeting Tuesday since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council authorized the return in February, giving city staff time to update the audio system within the council chambers. Around the same time, the five-person council also lifted the city’s mask mandate, with several council members arguing it was time to bring back some normalcy to Benicia.
The issues before the council on Tuesday include a request from City Manager Erik Upson to implement a new recruitment incentive program to attract and retain highly qualified personnel for several hard-to-fill positions within the city of Benicia.
If approved, the program will give Upson the power to give a newly hired employee up to a $15,000 incentive if they take a job the city has had trouble filling in the past.
Positions eligible for the incentive program will be based on several factors, including industry-wide vacancies resulting in fewer candidates applying; the city having to recruit for the same position multiple times before resulting in a successful hire; the amount of salary the city offers compared to market average; and increased turnover in the position.
“The City of Benicia is experiencing a diminished pool of well-qualified candidates for many of our hard-to-fill positions,” staff wrote in a report to the council. “Benicia is not unique in that agencies around the state are contending with this same shortage of candidates. Many agencies are implementing new benefits, policies, and hiring incentives to attract and retain qualified applicants.”
City hall is also proposing a referral program that will award an employee up to $900 if they refer an application for an open full-time position that is eligible for the incentive program after the new employee completes their probationary period.
Staff said vacancies are occurring as Baby Boomers begin to retire, while many of the city’s classifications are below average in salary, and as other qualified candidates are leaving the state. Staff also said it takes the city two to four months to fill a position.