Peachtree City votes $2,500 salary hike for police, fire/EMTs

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Yearly increase comes with 104 added work hours; all first responders will get pay increase

Finding and keeping qualified public safety officers is getting harder, as the Peachtree City Council acknowledged June 4 with a unanimous vote to raise salaries for new hires to the police and fire/EMS departments.

“It is necessary and appropriate,” said City Manager Jon Rorie. “It’s the right thing to do if we want to maintain our competitiveness in the market.”

To keep from becoming “the employer of last resort,” Rorie recommended a hike in starting salaries amounting to $2,500 per year, resulting in a budget hit of $411,000. The pay bump applies to police officers and firefighter-emergency medical technicians and goes into effect no later than September.

Starting pay goes from just under $40,000 annually for a certified police officer to $42,119. With that comes an increase of work hours to 84 within a 2-week span, or 104 additional work hours per year.

Starting pay for a new firefighter/EMT is the same as for a police officer.

It’s an across-the-board pay raise for all employees of both departments. All will get the $2,500 increase.

The attraction and retention problem is not confined to Peachtree City. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department lost two dozen deputies last year to other jurisdictions, and the Fayette County Commission is expected to raise county taxes to pay for pay hikes for deputies that will bring them to within a few dollars of the new Peachtree City starting mark. In addition Fayetteville recently raised the pay rate for its officers.

“It’s not really a pay raise,” Councilman Terry Ernst said. “They’re working extra hours. It’s a smart thing, overdue.”

“If we want the best trained, most qualified officers and we want them to stay, we have to pay them,” Councilman Kevin Madden said. “There’s a cost to that.”

“This problem is not just Peachtree City,” Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said. “It’s across the country.”

In a related move, the council voted to move ahead with developing the specifications for a new fire station, fire truck and other equipment that will be paid for with impact fees from new developments.

In other action, the city awarded bids totalling $1.1 million for relining two miles of stormwater pipes to extend their service life.

2 COMMENTS

  1. $2,600 annually less benefits loading and FICA, spread over 52 weeks basically comes to $35 per week. That barely fills the gas tank in a car. $42k/yr is barely enough to afford to live in this community, which forces these men and women to make life choices and sacrifices to serve this community that frankly most of us wouldn’t even consider.

    City Manager John Rorie testified before the City Council that we are lagging behind other jurisdictions in our area in terms of pay and beneifts for our public safety personnel. He stated to the effect that if we want good first responders, we need to pay for good first responders. We also need to create good working conditions for what is inherently a dangerous and difficult job. The average ratio of sworn officers to citizens in the State of Georgia is 2.7, which means the Peachtree City Police department should have about 75 officers. We have about 1/3rd of that.

    I have full confidence in Chief Moon. I would like to see the Council ask her in her capacity as Chief of Police to formulate a staffing plan (including equipment funds) that she thinks will effectively accomplish the mission of her department, and to act in good faith to put that plan into effect.

    And yes, that means that we will see our property taxes go up a little. But your alternative is getting carjacked at the grocery store at gun point. What is it worth to you personally to protect the way of life we have here in the Bubble?