Port Arthur has 78 open job vacancies; city council members push for ways to fill them

Published 12:20 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

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As of this week, the city of Port Arthur has 78 open positions, ranging from administrative to labor jobs.

At least one of the vacant slots has been that way for several years, due to the requirement of a specific license.

Trameka Williams, human resources director, broke down the list of vacancies: five professional positions, four technical positions, nine administrative positions and 60 labor operations vacancies.

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There are a number of temporary positions through Argus Talent, a staffing company out of Houston.

Calvin Matthews, director of water utilities, said the position of water maintenance supervisor in the distribution division has been open since August 2022. There is currently a nationwide shortage of people with the required license for the job, he said.

Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III requested the human resources department provide information on vacancies, including vacancies of more than two years, as well as the number of temporary contractors/consultant positions held for two or more years.

Matthews said there is one person working in this capacity for public works and utility operations who has been there since January 2018.

Some of the reasons for the vacancies are due to retirement or resignation.

Kinlaw, at a recent council meeting, said he was told two months ago by the city manager that there were 17 to 18 applicants for the grant writer position.

“We haven’t heard a dog-gone thing about that, and it’s something that we really need in this city,” Kinlaw said.

Williams said her office received a recommendation for the position last week.

No further discussion was made on the grant writer position.

Williams said the process for filling vacancies has a number of steps, including receiving and reviewing the applicants, interviews, assessing the candidates’ qualifications and selection.

Mayor Pro Tem Doneane Beckcom asked Williams how the city is recruiting to fill the vacancies. Williams explained they use an applicant manager program and when the department posts positions on the city’s website, those job vacancies are then kicked to other hiring sites.

Some sites, Beckcom said, allow the entity seeking applicants to input qualifications for specific jobs. A search is performed and if a qualified applicant has not applied yet, they are asked to do so.

The city is currently not recruiting using this tool but would be open to should the city manager approve of it.

“We’ll continue to be innovative,” City Manager Ron Burton said. “We want the best and the brightest, but first we want applicants from the City of Port Arthur, and think diversity, people from far and wide, we’re open to them as well for their expertise and knowledge.”
Beckcom believes the city needs to take a more proactive approach to filling the positions, instead of waiting for candidates to click on a link in Indeed or ZipRecruiter.

“If we are actively pursuing qualified candidates, I think it behooves us at this point with 78 vacancies, it’s what we need to do,” she said.

Burton said he would look into the issue.