65 opportunities for employment attract would-be groundskeepers
The city’s 65 temporary, full-time groundskeeper and supervisor job openings netted nearly 300 applicants at a special job fair held Monday — and more are expected today onthe second day of the event at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park.
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The city’s 65 temporary, full-time groundskeeper and supervisor job openings netted nearly 300 applicants at a special job fair held Monday — and more are expected today on the second day of the event at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park.
The Parks and Recreation Department is looking to hire 40 groundskeepers on personal services contracts. The Department of Facility Maintenance is looking for 25 groundskeepers and supervisors to maintain medians, traffic circles and bulb-outs; cemeteries in Kalihi and Ewa; and other sections of property adjacent to roads.
All told, 294 applications were submitted, city officials said. City panels interviewed 168 applicants.
Groundskeepers earn $17.64 an hour and supervisors make slightly more. The contracts would run through June 30, the end of the fiscal year, but they could either be extended or made into permanent positions after that, “funding permitted,” Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura said.
The key difference between groundskeepers in the two departments is that facility crews use weed whackers only (and no lawn mowers) due to the terrain they typically work, Sasamura said.
“It doesn’t lend itself to power
equipment other than weed whackers,” he said.
The DFM groundskeeper crews are responsible for maintaining 3.2 million square feet of landscaped area across Oahu, and ideally he’d like at least 40 people to do the job, Sasamura said. He currently has 15 permanent groundskeepers, and he has authorization to hire five more civil servants. “So if we do the 25 through this job fair, with the other 20 that we’ll have on board soon, hopefully, we’ll be up to where we need to be.”
The city has not been able to hire a full complement of 40 groundskeepers and supervisors on a permanent basis due to “competing priorities” with other city budget needs, he said. It would also take a longer period, possibly one or even two years, to establish new groundskeeper positions, whereas contract hires could be on the job by Jan. 4, he said.
The Parks Department uses a higher number of groundskeepers, but exactly how many was not available Monday afternoon.
Some of the prospective hires at McCoy Pavilion on Monday were recently laid off, while others simply have not been able to find suitable jobs in the current employment climate, Sasamura said. Others, he said, likely “want to get their foot in the door with the city” because of its attractive benefits.
Up until the mid-1990s the city hired private groundskeeping and landscaping contractors to do the work now assigned to DFM groundskeepers. But the Hawaii Supreme Court, in the Konno v. Hawaii County case of 1997, ruled that the state and counties could not privatize jobs “customarily and historically” done by civil servants.
The Legislature passed a law in 2001 allowing the state and counties to temporarily contract with private entities that could provide equivalent or better services at a lower cost than a government agency, but that law expired in 2007.
When the last of those contracts ended in 2014, DFM hired 15 groundskeepers as civil servants, Sasamura said.
The job fair continues today at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park from
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.