Higher Pay, Incentives Eyed For Resort’s Seasonal Hires

OCEAN CITY — Updated salary and incentive packages for part-time seasonal employees were reviewed this week ahead of the summer recruitment season.

It’s no secret Ocean City has struggled to recruit, hire and retain much-needed seasonal part-time employees to fill out its ranks in several key departments. To that end, resort officials over the last few post-pandemic years have been coming up with creative ways inch up pay rates and add incentive programs to retain returning employees and attract new workers in almost every department.

Just this week, the Police Commission learned through the most recent testing dates in January, the Ocean City Police Department reported having 51 seasonal officer applicants with 16 failures for a variety of reasons, three conditional hires and 26 candidates still in the process. By comparison, last year the OCPD had 115 total applicants for seasonal officer positions, resulting in 42 hires. Similar numbers thus far bear out for the hiring process for much-needed public safety aides (PSAs).

Similar issues remain with the recruiting and hiring of municipal bus drivers and Boardwalk tram drivers and conductors. Last year, resort officials implemented an aggressive salary increase and incentive package for bus and tram drivers, and while the programs have nudged up the numbers, the ranks are still a little thin just months before the summer season ramps up again, Transportation Committee officials learned this week.

Similar issues remain with the Ocean City Beach Patrol, which continues to hold recruiting and testing sessions in advance of the summer season. Last summer, the Beach Patrol fell a little short of the desired number of Surf Rescue Technicians, resulting in creative deployment efforts to ensure the beach was covered.

On Tuesday, City Manager Terry McGean presented an update on the town’s seasonal employee salary and incentive program for 2023. For example, all seasonal part-time employees will see their pay tables increase by an average of 3%. The adjustments also include a 2% step increase for returning part-time employees. A seasonal returning part-time employee is defined as having worked at least 400 hours the prior year, while a year-round part-timer is defined as having worked 1,000 hours.

For municipal bus drivers, pay rates for 2023 will be set at $20.50 per hour for new drivers and $21 per hour for returning drivers. There is also a referral bonus of $500 for a driver that recommends a new hire. There are also different levels of end-of-year bonuses for those drives who stay through Labor Day and beyond including enhanced bonuses for drivers who stay through Sunfest.

The same hourly pay rates in 2023 will apply to for solid waste drivers. New tram drivers in 2023 will earn $15,91 per hour, while returning drivers will see their hourly wage increased to $16.23 per hour. Tram conductors will also see a step increase in their hourly pay rate to $15.45 for new employees to $15.76 for returning employees.

Beach Patrol SRTs will see their hourly pay rate increase in 2023, to $18.45 for new hires and $18.82 for returning lifeguards. There will also be a $250 signing bonus for SRTs, along with a $500 referral bonus for those who refer others to the job. The Beach Patrol will also see an end-of-season loyalty bonus for those who come back on weekends after they return to school or other jobs, although the loyalty bonus will vary depending on travel allowances, for example.

As far as the OCPD goes, salary and benefits are largely determined by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union contracts although there are some slight changes with the pay rates for seasonal officers and PSAs for 2023, or those not covered in the FOP contract. For example, new seasonal officers will earn $19 per hour, while returning seasonal officers will earn $19.38.

There is also a $500 bonus for returning seasonal officers, in addition to a $500 bonus for a PSA from last year that returns as a seasonal officer this year. Ocean City firefighters, EMTs and paramedics largely have their salary and incentive packages dictated by their union contract although there are some step increases included for 2023 under certain conditions.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.