Dilley this week gave all employees across the board raises
The new economics of the Eagle Ford oil boom are making life tough for the people who run the small towns in the Brush Country south of San Antonio, which suddenly find themselves losing much of their employees for higher paying jobs in the oil field, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Each one of these small towns here is facing the same challenges," said Melissa Gonzalez, the City Administrator of Dilley, population 3800.
She says the city was forced to raise the pay of all city employees across the board, because from the police officers to the garbage crews, they were leaving to go to work for oil companies.
"We decided to actually give all the employees a significant pay increase," Gonzalez said.
She says from one end of the Eagle Ford region to the other, small towns which have experienced similar rhythms for a century are suddenly being upended by the major changes brought on by the Eagle Ford. Some officials have indicated that when you count all of the Eagle Ford workers and their families, as many as 400,000 more people will be living in the region in the coming five years, a brand new city the size of St. Louis, plopped down right in the middle of the previously unchanging Brush Country.
"What our mayor and city council was able to do at the last meeting was to actually understand what the competitive market was," Gonzalez said.
While cities like Dilley are also experiencing booms, the new arithmetic is taking a while for people to get used to.
"We need to be able to invest in our employees in order to maintain that future growth," she said.
The Karnes County Sheriff's department, for example, has been forced to add eight deputies just in the past year, and these new deputies have to be hired and trained at the same time that oilfield operators are paying far higher salaries for professionally trained security staff.
That means as soon as deputies are trained and certified, they frequently flee for higher paying jobs across the street.
Gonzalez says it's part of the boom cycle, and having to deal with a boom is better than the alternative.