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Essex County may have to up pay scale for engineers

ELIZABETHTOWN - Fearing a lack of qualified candidates, Essex County Supervisors unanimously endorsed a pay increase for the post of Assistant Civil Engineer this week.

After significant discussion, the board approved a measure that will pay between $45,000 to $55,000 for the job, but could pay more if a highly qualified candidate is found.

But even with the pay increase, Essex Supervisor Ron Jackson still has his doubts.

"I just don't know if we will be able to get what we want for $55,000," Jackson said.

Before the adoption of the new pay scale, a first-year Assistant Civil Engineer was slated to make $39,000 - a figure well out of line with other regional counties and the private sector.

Several supervisors agreed with Jackson's analysis and an amendment was added to allow for more pay commiserate with experience or education of an applicant.

Supervisors said they would like an experienced engineer and that paying a little more in salary will save cash in the long run because more work could be accomplished in-house.

The county is seeking a replacement for longtime Assistant Civil Engineer Lenny Zelkowitz, who is set to retire in September.

Essex County Manager Dan Palmer noted that due to the amended approval of the pay scale adjustment, a planned training period for the new hire may not happen.

Because of the open-ended nature of the pay scale, any potential hire over $55,000 would have to return to the full board for approval.

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