Milford city workers back on the job, one day after resigning over personnel and other issues

Councilman Les Whitney said the walkout was limited to four full-time workers who tend to municipal parks and roads.

Maintenance workers in the small west Beaver County city of Milford are back on the job Wednesday, one day after resigning their positions in a dispute over personnel and other undisclosed issues.

The Salt Lake Tribune received a tip late Tuesday that city staff in the town of about 1,500-plus residents had resigned en masse due to a spat with Mayor Nolan Davis and members of the City Council.

However, Councilman Les Whitney said the reports were inaccurate, adding the walkout was limited to four full-time workers who tend to municipal parks and roads.

“There’s been some misunderstanding and miscommunication is the total bottom line on this whole problem,” Whitney said. “And that has been resolved, for the most part, but there are still a few little issues we are trying to solve.”

Contrary to posts on Facebook and other social media, Whitney added, the dispute that prompted the resignations was not about pay but had more to do with personnel and other issues that he refused to divulge.

According to a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, the mayor and council were informed about the resignations Tuesday morning and convened an emergency meeting that same day to “discuss options to keep our valued city crew members and the city operations running smoothly.”

Whitney said he and the mayor then met with the “city foreman and the leadmen” Wednesday to listen to their concerns, and added those conversations will continue until all the issues are resolved. He said the meeting was to clarify matters, not negotiate with the maintenance workers.

While pay was ostensibly not an issue with the disgruntled workers, the news release nonetheless dealt with benefits and wage increases in some detail.

“The reason we did that is because [people on] Facebook turned this into a monetary issue,” Whitney continued. “We wanted the public to realize that this is what [the pay and benefits] they got.”

In the tentative budget for fiscal year 2023 which starts July 1, full-time Milford city employees are slated to receive a 12% cost of living allowance, or COLA, raise to help municipal salaries keep pace with inflation, the news release details.

Other financial inducements in the budget, according to the release, include an hourly salary increase of between $3 and $5 dollars, which will be based on performance evaluations and will take place within the first quarter of the new fiscal year. Moreover, the city will continue to pay 100% of full-time employees’ health insurance premiums, absorbing a 6.2% increase in health insurance costs. Finally, “crew members” will now receive overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours rather than having to take comp days — a system that “no longer benefits the city,” the release stated.

Milford shut down its city offices Wednesday and staff did not return phone calls while Davis and Whitney huddled with the maintenance workers.

“After the meeting took place and we got everything agreed upon,” Whitney explained, “they went back to work. So they are now back on the job.”

City officials say they have informed municipal staff that the dispute is officially over and everyone needs to move forward in a positive way.

“This is all water under the bridge now with the exception of solving a few minor issues,” Whitney added. “This is all to be forgotten.”