Berlin Restores Custodial Position

BERLIN – Elected officials agreed to move forward with adding a custodial position to town staff.

The Berlin Town Council voted 4-1 last week to create a maintenance/custodial position. Currently the town hires a contractor to handle cleaning at town hall.

“We feel like bringing back a full-time custodial laborer position would be the most beneficial move for us to make,” Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said.

Bohlen told the council that currently, a contractor cleaned the town’s kitchens and restrooms, including the public restrooms on William Street and at Henry Park, while municipal staff cleaned offices and common areas within town hall. She said the contractor had advised her they no longer wanted to clean the restrooms at Henry Park.

“They do not care to continue with the Henry Park restrooms,” Bohlen said. “There have been particular issues they’ve run into. From a global perspective of getting the job done, we feel it’s in the best interest of the town to move to an on staff position.”

Mayor Zack Tyndall said he’d noticed the need for additional cleaning in town hall as staff had prepared for the Aug. 17 Senate field hearing.

“The amount of dust and the amount of dirt in this building, it’s not sanitary,” he said.

Councilman Dean Burrell asked how the position would be funded, as it was not included in the budget.

Staff said the new position would cost the town about $37,440 in addition to benefits. Bohlen said the cost could be covered by the savings from the termination of the cleaning contract, which is close to $40,000, and with funding not yet used for the special projects administrative position.  During budget development, staff said that position would assist the town administrator as well as the planning department.

“We’re still working to shape the scope of the position,” Tyndall said. “We’re still trying to get that job scope ready and sent out.”

Jimmy Charles, the town’s director of public works, said his staff spent likely 16 hours a week cleaning bathrooms, as the contractor visited just once a day.

Councilman Jack Orris said he was concerned about reducing the funding available for the administrative position, as securing assistance for the planning department had been a key discussion during the budget process. He said he wanted to review further before a new position was added.

“I was in favor of holding off until I heard the will of the contractor is to separate from us,” Burrell said.

Councilman Steve Green said he too wanted to move forward, motioning to approve bringing back the position.

“It bothers me to hear about quality staff members having to do things that they shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

The council voted 4-1, with Orris opposed, to create the new custodial position.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.