A worker shortage has prompted Westbrook Public Services to hire contractors for custodial work in city buildings, this year’s road striping and grave digging.

“This is our busiest season, and being short-handed due to labor shortages makes it all the more intense,” Operations Director Arty Ledoux said in a phone interview Monday. “We need to prioritize what we are doing and get some assistance where it makes sense with some of our tasks.”

The Public Services road crew, typically full at 18, now has seven members, Ledoux said.

A number of workers have left to “better their situation” with higher-paying jobs, he said.

“We are like anyone else. People are trying to improve personal situations, whether that’s wages or benefits,” Ledoux said. “So they take advantage of opportunities that are out there that they feel would improve their situation and go do that. It’s kind of the way of the (world) right now and folks are moving around.”

The City Council unanimously approved three contracts on Monday.


Casco Bay Cleaning of Portland has been contracted for $21,972 a month for custodial work at City Hall, the Public Safety and Public Services buildings, Community Center, and Walker Memorial Library. The three-year contract begins in July.

K5 Corporation of Rockland, Massachusetts, will be paid roughly $79,000 to repaint faded street striping. The company will be able to get the job done faster than would have been possible with in-house staff, Ledoux said.

“Safety of the pedestrians and the commuters and driving public is paramount,” Ledoux said.

Street striping is required annually because winter takes a toll on the markings, according to City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

Grave services have been contracted to CKC Landscaping of Gorham at a rate of $900 per plot or $1,000 a plot with less than four days notice of when the grave is needed. One Public Services employee will be on-site for grave work, Ledoux said; previously two or three employees were responsible for it.

The department’s busy season, which includes focusing on outdoor recreation areas, is compounded this year because of added work caused by large construction projects downtown and elsewhere in the city.

As Public Services looks to fill hire more permanent workers, Ledoux asks the public for patience.

“We are doing the best we can with the employees we are working with, and we are doing our best to continue to keep the same level of service for the taxpayers that we’ve always had,” he said.

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