City staffing issues persist

By Per Peterson

From water treatment personnel to the police department, the City of Tracy is dealing with a staffing shortage that continues to be a cause of concern.

Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen addressed the Tracy City Council on Monday about the staffing issues.

The Tracy Police Department is down to two officers, and two of three eligible candidates recently tested, according to Police Chief Jason Lichty’s report. One applicant outscored the other by a substantial amount; the applicant was offered the position and accepted, but four days later declined because a neighboring department made him a better offer.

The other candidate will be given a chance to interview a second time. Another round of applications will take place, with another test to be conducted in the future.

Lichty and Officer Adam Hansen have been joined by Dustin Demuth, a deputy with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office until another officer is hired.

“It’s a challenge,” Hansen said. “We have been fortunate in the last couple of years — we’re not the only city that is seeing this.”

Hansen said the City has talked to other cities about a possible partnership, including Walnut Grove.

“We’re looking at some different options to address this, but it’s going to be an ongoing issue,” he said. “So many people are leaving this profession right now.”

• Tracy Public Works Director Shane Daniels is fully certified as a Water System Operator Class C for the City’s municipal water treatment and distribution system. However, the position is still open, and the City is advertising in specific publications in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota to get it filled.

“My understanding … is that there are a lot of these positions open throughout the state,” Hansen said. “Shane and I were talking about what if we can’t find somebody, what do we do? Shane has passed his tests, so we have a local operator for the system, but the issue is that this is a full-time job, so he is doing that in addition to everything else.”

Hansen said it takes at least one year to earn a Class D wastewater certificate and three years for a Class C, meaning it will take three years for the person to be qualified for Tracy’s system, per state regulations.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.