By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
Hudson – The Hudson Recreation Department is hiring summer help, this year. The Department of Public Works is not.
This has Rec. Director Stephen Santos worried as he says his and other departments work hand in hand with the DPW, particularly during the summer months.
“Those seasonal employees, even though they’re not directly under us, do make a difference,” Santos said during a Select Board meeting last month. “They’re the ones doing the grunt work out there and doing some of that seasonal labor that does not always get done.”
COVID-19 disrupts budgets
In the summer of 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the DPW earmarked money to pay eight seasonal employees for 10 weeks of minimum wage work.
That same year, the Rec. Department budgeted to pay just over 80 seasonal workers.
COVID-19 made a dent in both of those respective summer programs as Hudson weathered the still ongoing economic crisis the coronavirus caused.
Now restarting some of its pre-pandemic programming, though, the Rec. Department is again offering jobs in at least a half dozen categories. Those include lifeguard, camp counselor and tennis instructor slots among other positions.
The DPW, meanwhile, has no such opportunities.
It eliminated seasonal positions from its budget last year.
Come budget season this spring, the department has opted to extend that cut for another year.
“It’s just a matter of priorities right now,” DPW Director Eric Ryder told the Community Advocate in an interview, March 1.
DPW adapts without seasonal help
Helping Santos’ Rec. Department as well as other public and private local organizations, the DPW has historically leaned on summer employees to aid full time staff.
When one employee is mowing a field, for example, seasonal workers might be seen weed whacking.
The DPW will continue providing essential services, this year, Ryder said. But certain upkeep tasks “may take another day or so to get done.”
Ryder confirmed, March 1, that he wants these positions back in his budget. These cuts, he noted, are not permanent.
“This is something that I will look to add back in as soon as possible,” he said.