Pilot pay might stay the same, county says

Published 10:53 am Monday, January 27, 2014

Warren County supervisors let another week pass without setting in stone what it would pay the next staff pilot on the Kings Point Ferry.
Earlier this month, the board expected to put a higher hourly wage in writing, somewhere north of $20 an hour. Two staff pilots are paid $16.55 an hour, while two contract backups, all of whom work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mat Sinking Unit, are paid $25 an hour. On Tuesday, the unit was called back into service by the Corps to fill holes in the river bed near two sites between Memphis and New Madrid, Mo.
The county reversed course last week when Road Manager Buddy Poole told supervisors one person had inquired about the job and would work at the current pay rate.
“I have by word of mouth a young guy who has committed to another job right now, but by February he should come back down and is very interested in the pilot position,” Poole said in response to a question from District 1 Supervisor John Arnold.
An alternative to the ferry, a raised road atop a levee, was deemed unfeasible in 2008 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which refunded $124,933.51 the county had paid for a study.
Staffing shortages have cut the ferry’s manpower to one and its operating hours since about Dec. 1 to 12-hour shifts, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Two contractors are on call; a third hired in November didn’t show up for work, officials said. A staff pilot was dismissed from the crew in December after internal squabbles over scheduling and pay.