The county budget for next fiscal year is not final, and one change to it could be whether bus drivers in the Transportation Department remain as part-time employees. Commissioner Johnny Trahan has investigated the situation and has brought it to the Commissioners Court’s attention.
As part-time employees, the drivers do not receive county benefits that full-time employees with Orange County receive. The problem according to Transportation Director Janell Dischler is the part-time drivers do not have sufficient hours when transporting senior citizens to Beaumont for medical treatment to wait for them and then return with the seniors to Orange County.
All the bus drivers are part-time and are retired. They are only allowed to work 27 and a half hours a week. They are paid $10 an hour. Dischler indicated even if the pay is raised to $12 an hour it would not be enough incentive to get more candidates to apply for drivers’ positions. “With all the training that these people have to have they can go and work somewhere else full-time and support a family on it. If we’re going to entice anybody younger than our retired people we’re going to have to up the ante,” Dischler stated.
Commissioner Trahan raised the issue during the last Commissioners Court meeting. The county is reimbursed by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission for using the buses. Trahan said the bus drivers cannot return from or drive to Jefferson County with their buses empty because the county would not be reimbursed and it would tie up two different drivers.
Trahan believes the simplest solution is to hire two full-time drivers for that particular route. Dischler indicates the same problem exists for the Vidor route. The Commissioners took no action this week, but will probably discuss it again before next year’s budget is finalized before October.