May 15, 2021

The search continues

New avenues being explored in quest for new Jasper County Engineer

The search for a new Jasper County engineer is continuing with the board of supervisors giving direction on how to proceed. Jasper County Human Resources Director Dennis Simon shared the information he received at the request of the supervisors during the April 27 meeting.

“Besides Jasper County, Jefferson County, Osceola County, Taylor County and Union County are all in the process of trying to secure a county engineer,” Simon said. “I contacted all that have gone through the process, trying to gather information on what they did for recruitment, if there was something additional.”

Jasper County has been looking for an engineer since February after the previous county engineer Russ Stutt resigned, citing ongoing health issues. As of last week, Simon said he has not received a single application.

The position has been advertised on the county website and with organizations including Iowa County Engineers Service Bureau, Iowa County Engineers Association, Iowa Department of Transportation and IowaWORKS. With the supervisors blessing, he will begin expanding the pool to include websites such as SimplyHire and EngineeringJobs.com.

“We can post for free and review the contact information, see what it is going to cost,” Simon said. “There is no guarantee those people are interested in coming to Jasper County, but at least they searching for a job and it improves our chances.”

When researching pay range, Simon found that Jasper County is among the highest pay rate listed with the range of $100,000 to $135,000. Even among private sector jobs, the county’s range exceeds those offered.

“Ankeny is also a city that is in the process of getting an engineer. Their posting is at $100,000 to $140,000,” Simon said.

To help “sweeten the pot,” it was suggested to add a moving expense stipend. Simon said Jackson County recently hired an engineer from Florida and offered $8,750 for relocation expenses.

“I think we need to include the stipend, relocation allowance, whatever you want to call it, of $10,000 to $15,000, as well,” supervisors Brandon Talsma said.

The supervisors were also very interested in working with recruiters to find applicants. Simon found three options for the board, Judge Group out of Pennsylvania, P.J. Greufe & Associates of Davenport and Strategic Government Resources from Texas for review.

“I think we need to proceed with advertising with the site but I think we need to ... interview with head-hunting agencies and see of possibly getting a contract with one of them,” Talsma said.

On average, Simon found the cost of using a recruiter to be 25 to 30 percent of the position’s annual salary or about $35,000 to $45,000. He said the payment is not made until placement and some also offer a 90 day guarantee for the hire.

While speaking with a variety of businesses and government entities, Simon said nobody came back with a “magic bullet” of any one website or process that made the biggest difference. Overall, getting the opening out to a larger audience seems like the next move for the county.”It is looking like a lot of counties are doing the same things we did,” Talsma said. “From the ones you got in contact with, a lot of them are saying they got lucky or the spouse or they had a tie to the community and that is how ended up there.”

In other business:

• The board approved Shawna Jaggars for the full-time acct/computer specialist position for the engineer’s office.

• Livescan Maintenance and Advanced Correctional Healthcare were both renewed for the Jasper County’s Sheriff Office and Jasper County Jail.

• Two sets pf dump trucks and bodies were approved for purchase at $236,900 for Western Star trucks and $144,110 for Henderson bodies for the county.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com