Work Crew – The County Scene – Susan Morgan

Continuing with the services that are provided to you within the Public Safety budget, let’s look at the Work Crew. Folks who are sentenced to ‘public service’ find themselves serving their time on Work Crew.

You have likely seen them cleaning up roadways, like around transfer stations where unsecured trash blows out of pickups, and within the transfer station assisting you with your trash. Less visible services include working with Douglas County Public Works and ODOT on brushing out roadsides for visibility and fire safety, and fighting wildfires.

We recently sent the Work Crew out to clean up an illegal dump site on the Days Creek Cut-off Road outside of Myrtle Creek, where folks have decided that dumping their trash on someone else’s private property (an industrial timber land owner) serves the greater good more than taking it to a transfer station.

While fighting forest fires, Work Crew individuals are paid a stipend for the days they are on the lines. The on-the-job training that is gained has enabled some of these folks to step up to work for private contractors who supply fire crews to the US Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry. In all other aspects of Work Crew service, the participants are not paid. There are about 600 individuals on Work Crew each year.

But, there is a cost: about $1.5 million for this year. About 75% of the cost is payroll. These individuals need to be supervised while they are serving their sentences. To do this, money is transferred from the Solid Waste budget to fund 7 full time equivalent (FTE) transfer site attendants that supervise Work Crew while overseeing the trash collection process. Four FTE supervisors take other crews out to do brushing, roadside cleanup, firefighting, etc., and oversee safety, work pace and quality. One FTE manages the overall operation with one administrative assistant. Additional costs, about 25% of the total, cover expenses like: vehicle costs to transport crews to worksites and back; fire
crew stipend; gas, chain saws, fire and cleanup equipment, etc.

To cover the cost, 76% of needed revenue comes from general fund reserves. About 12% comes from outside funding, mostly ODOT and Federal agencies. About 11% comes from a beginning balance carry forward accumulated by firefighting revenue for work at the Douglas Complex fires in 2013.

Maintaining this program in the future even with a tipping fee at the landfill will be difficult.

Susan always welcomes your questions or comments. Please contact her by email at morgan@co.douglas.or.us; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg, 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.

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