How much should individuals tasked with completing a dirty job earn?
That’s the question Warren County commissioners must answer now that Warren County Sanitation Department director Josh Roberts has requested a $2 salary increase, from $14.50 to $16.50, for the department’s truck drivers.
“They are Class A CDL drivers wading in trash,” said Roberts, who says the job is dirty and drivers deal with stuff that would disgust most people. “This raise request is from me because I see a need for it. I’ve had drivers leave for more money, for better benefits. I have two drivers this year who can retire. I don’t know what we’ll do if that happens.”
The department currently has three drivers with one vacancy.
According to county records, drivers hauled 1,518 loads of bagged household trash to Southern Central in 2020. That number is bagged household trash only and does not include other items such as furniture, metal, cardboard, aluminum cans, batteries, used oil, tires, etc., also accepted by the department.
“This needs to be done,” said Roberts. “It really does. I can’t keep truck drivers. We are blessed to have the three truck drivers that we do who are trained. I’m thankful for that.”
A salary increase request, combined with two employees eligible for retirement, might have spurred a foul rumor.
“I’ve received a few phone calls from commissioners who have heard a rumor that this was considered as a scare tactic or a threat from my truck drivers that if they did not get this increase they would be leaving,” said Roberts. “I want everyone to know, right here and right now, that is not true. I would not tolerate that. That was a rumor that got started. This request is from me because I see a need for it.”
The current salary is not competitive and not enough to hire someone with experience. Roberts says he trains drivers and once they have experience, they seek jobs elsewhere.
“Warren County Highway Department says their truck drivers average $19.30. Coffee County Solid Waste, a neighboring county that’s similar to Warren County and hauls about the same amount of trash as we do, theirs is $17.84. DeKalb County’s is $17.50. Wilson County is $17.91.”
Commissioner David Dunlap voiced a belief that the salary should be $3 more an hour.
“I’m asking for $2, an increase to $16.50, and I have money within my budget” said Roberts.
Commissioner Casey Owens expressed disbelief. “It’s way too low,” she said. “I come from a family of truckers, a trucking business. I can’t believe it’s not at least $15.”
Warren County has 12 convenience centers and 24 employees.
Health and Welfare Committee members unanimously approved the transfer within the budget to pay for the increase and they approved the $2 salary increase for sanitation drivers. However, two days later, both the county Budget and Finance Committee and county Financial Management Committee met to consider the request. The measure failed before Budget and Finance, but was approved before Financial Management.
The measure will be sent to the full Warren County Commission for consideration this Tuesday, Feb. 16,
at 6:30 p.m.