The city of Portland is trying to fill more than 200 vacant positions, with most in the areas of law enforcement, rehab and public works.

City Manager Danielle West said recruitment and retention of staff is a priority and it’s reflected in the budget.

West is trying new strategies to compete in a tight labor market. Post-COVID, she is making jobs remote and offering flexible and alternative work schedules, which city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said is attractive to job seekers.

Increasing salaries is another tactic, with the city boosting police wages by 14 percent to keep officers from going to other communities with better pay. And signing bonuses of $1,500 ti $2,500 are attached to several openings.

Grondin said the city manager strived to increase wages while keeping the tax increase to 6 percent.

“Obviously, as she mentioned in the budget, she fought for salary increases so that we can be competitive and keep people,” she said.

Cost-of-living adjustments for inflation and professional development and leadership training are also in the mix. And Grondin said the city manager is making an effort to communicate more with staff and get their input to keep moving the city forward.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.