Process botched, says job-seeker
Delays in the hiring process and a mistake in the advertised pay left the Haines Borough’s choice for its firefighter job uncertain about wanting to work for the municipality.
It appears Bryan Hinderberger has since been removed from a list of candidates for the job. He said he was told the borough is "moving in another direction" with the hire, and was given no further explanation.
Borough manager Mark Earnest this week would not comment on Hinderberger’s status.
"I mean, I didn’t even have time to screw anything up and they were already deducting $4,000 of my pay before I even started," Hinderberger wrote in an e-mail to the Chilkat Valley News.
The job description listed a starting wage of $18.81 per hour for the full-time firefighter and EMT position. Hinderberger said when he went to the borough office to accept the job offer Sept. 2, Earnest and fire chief Scott Bradford discovered the mistake and told him the job would have to be re-advertised at the correct rate of $16.59 an hour.
"There was an error in posting, and we’re trying to resolve that," Earnest said this week. "We’re going through that process."
Earnest said the position might be re-advertised or the borough could consider "other candidates" who had applied. "(The error) was certainly unintentional, but we have to follow the union contract." The borough received 10 applications for the opening
Hinderberger, a certified EMT since April 2010, told
the CVN he was "frustrated" by the two-month hiring process. Upon learning of the wage mix-up, Hinderberger said he "never once raised my voice and I never once cursed anyone or anything. I simply asked a question that anyone in my position would have asked" to learn what caused the mistake.
Hinderberger said he has since heard from acquaintances that borough officials think he "blew up on them" about the decreased pay and suspects that’s why Earnest didn’t offer the job to him at the lower rate." He believes the borough was "divulging this private matter to the public."
Hinderberger outlined his complaints about the hiring process in two e-mails to the CVN. Earnest was shown both e-mails and said he would not comment on them.
Tiffany Roles departed as firefighter-EMT in early July. Hinderberger applied for the job June 27 and was interviewed Aug. 17. By Aug. 26, he heard rumors the job was his following an endorsement by a hiring committee. He then waited for official word from Earnest, who had final authority on the hire.
Hinderberger said he stopped by the borough office on Sept. 1, and Earnest said he still needed some paperwork from fire chief Bradford to make the offer. Hinderberger returned the next day, when he learned of the incorrect wage.
"It has left a nasty taste in my mouth and shed a whole new light on how this town is run," he said.
Hinderberger said another issue he raised with Earnest was the manager "promised me twice" that he would call Sept. 2 with an update on the job before the holiday weekend, but did not follow through.
Hinderberger has lived seasonally in Haines for five years and said he is looking to stay year-round. He has worked as a guide and dishwasher and is an apprentice for pilot Drake Olson.
Hinderberger doesn’t serve on the Haines Volunteer Fire Department, but after he learned of the vacancy, he volunteered there to learn from fireman Al Badgley and said that during his six weeks there he "really enjoyed the variety that it had to offer."
"The fact that I am an EMT, I do love this town and that it is a position that is fairly community-based – you’re at least dealing with the community a lot and it’s for the betterment of the community – really was appealing," Hinderberger said.
Hinderberger said he’s "in a state of shock" about what happened.
"I’ve had a fair amount of time to think about all of this, and I feel as though I’ve taken about as correct of steps as one in my position could have taken," he said. "I don’t necessarily think that I was out of line by asking any of the questions I asked, and I can’t say there is anything I regretted or would change."