AM 890 and Serving the Kenai Peninsula
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Proposed programs target Soldotna's recruiting lags

 The Soldotna City Council in January.
Sabine Poux
The Soldotna City Council in January.

Hiring bonuses and paid parental leave are among nine programs in a package proposed by the City of Soldotna to make city hall a more competitive place to work, amid an ongoing surplus of job openings in Alaska.

At its last meeting, the Soldotna City Council gave the city the go-ahead to suggest changes to city code that would set those programs in motion. City Manager Stephanie Queen, who’s leaving her role this spring, has said making the city a place where families want to live and work is one of her priorities in office.

She said the strategies she presented to the city council will help do that.

“I feel strongly that in my remaining time, this is one of the most important things I can do to continue to set the organization up for success in the future,” Queen said.

In a Feb. 8 memo to the council, Queen said the city has seen longer than normal recruitment times to fill vacancies in the city.

And employers around the country have been struggling with what economists call a labor shortage — not enough people to fill jobs in both the public and private sectors.

At a work session last month, Dan Robinson with the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development told the city council the working population in Alaska, specifically, is shrinking.

That’s due in part to an aging of the local population. A smaller percentage of Soldotna’s total population is working-age, for example — from 57% in 2010 down to 52% today, according to Robinson’s presentation.

“Add onto that this migration trend. More people have been leaving Alaska than moving to Alaska for 10 years now,” Robinson said. “The total amount, it adds up to about 53 thousand over those 10 years.”

He said the job market isn’t expected to change any time soon, either

Queen said she created the nine recommendations with help the city’s human resources staff and Alaska’s Workplace Solutions. Among them is a program for funding employee relocation, and matching contributions to the city’s deferred compensation plan — estimated to cost the city between $140 thousand and $220 thousand. (You can see the full slate of proposed programs, and their potential costs, in the March 22 council packet.) Queen said many are geared toward retaining current employees, in addition to recruiting new ones.

Now that she has the thumbs up from the city council, Queen said the next step will be to bring forward an ordinance to update parts of the city’s personnel code to bring those programs in place.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at