The Mobile City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Personnel Staffing Services for payroll management for roughly 80 summer employees hired as part of Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Youth Empowered for Success (YES) Initiative.
The company will manage payroll services, but the city will pay the employees minimum wage for work in 17 departments. Councilman Fred Richardson had requested more information on the prospective employees to learn if any had come from the district he represents, but “let it go” when he learned more than 2,000 individuals ages 16 to 24 had applied for jobs.
Following a pre-conference meeting on Tuesday, Richardson said he was supportive of the measure.
Anitra Henderson, director of civic engagement, said the youth who applied had to live in the city or attend a Mobile County school.
“What we wanted to do was give every young person who wanted to apply … the opportunity to apply no matter what age or socioeconomic background,” Henderson said. “We wanted to make sure it was as easy as possible.”
The program will run for six weeks, starting in June, Henderson said. The program includes two weeks of job skills training and four weeks inside the city departments.
The applicants not chosen to work in the city departments can participate in a program supported by private businesses in Gulf Shores, Henderson said.
Young people ages 17-24 can work in Gulf Shores during the summer season as part of a pilot program. The program helps provide employees near the beach at a time when there is typically a shortage, Henderson said. Those chosen for the program will receive two weeks’ job readiness training from the University of South Alabama’s Hospitality and Tourism Department.
The city will provide transportation to Baldwin County through Mobile County Public School System and then to Gulf Shores through Baldwin Rural Area Transportation Services. The individual businesses will pay the wages, Henderson said.
Roughly 100 employees will be hired through the city and another 100 or so will be hired in Gulf Shores, Henderson said. Another 200 to 500 will go through the training.
The city also encouraged local businesses to hire at least two employees for the summer through established internship programs at the Mobile Housing Board and Mobile County Public Schools. If a business hires two interns, the city can provide funding for one, Henderson said.
Of the 2,775 young people who showed initial interest, 753 officially applied and were screened by the city, Henderson said. The city then pared that number down to 100 to work in the city departments.
Henderson said the employees are from every council district in the city and from all walks of life.
Councilman Levon Manzie, who had initially asked the city to develop a youth employment program, said he expects to see a large number of employees from east of Interstate 65.
“My expectation is that the young people who are most in need will come from east of I-65,” he said.
Manzie said he thinks the administration’s effort will be a “huge success.”
“I am very appreciative of the administration responding to my call last year to deal with summer employment,” he said. “They’ve set the groundwork for what I hope will be an even greater program in the future.”
Manzie said he would like to see an increase in funding for the program. The large number of applicants, he said, validated what he’d been hearing in meetings with youth — that the No. 1 issue in the city is employment.
“I knew there would be a great level of interest in this program,” he said. “I don’t think this is the tip of the iceberg. I’m hopeful we can build on this level of support.”
In other business, the council voted to deny the request of Blackwell Towing’s removal from the city’s wrecker company rotation. Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber said Blackwell wouldn’t allow Mobile Police Department access to its business records in order to conduct an audit. An attorney for owner DeWayne Blackwell told councilors officers can come by and look at the records anytime they want.
The council approved a master agreement with McCrory & Williams worth $90,000 for engineering and construction services to complete multiple drainage repairs throughout the city.
The council approved a $63,345 contract with Aiker Construction Corp. for Rickarby Park basketball court.
The council approved a $158,980 contract to re-roof 850 St. Anthony St. and authorized a Transportation Alternative Program grant to include Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks along Dauphin Island Parkway from the south side of Interstate 10 to Old Military Road. The TAP grant is worth a total of $199,891, which includes $159,912 in grant funds and a $39,978 match from CIP funds.