Milledgeville Fire Department requests pay increase to retain firefighters

The Milledgeville Fire Department is requesting an increase in pay for its firefighters.
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Milledgeville Fire Department requests pay increase from City council
Milledgeville Fire Department

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia(41NBC/WMGT) — The Milledgeville Fire Department is requesting an increase in pay for its firefighters.

The fire department says it’s looking to retain firefighters and that it’s struggling to keep up with the pay of surrounding fire departments.

“We have firefighters making just as much as sergeants,” Battalion Chief David Ussery said. “We got sergeants making just as much as lieutenants. We have lieutenants making salaries similar to battalion chiefs, so we have to not just address the starting salary, we’ve go to look at the whole salary pay scale.”

Ussery says the fire department hasn’t seen significant pay increases in years.

The starting salary is $31,000, which Ussery says is nearly $10,000 less than surrounding areas.

Ussery says there is a cycle to the pay increase they receive.

“I’ve been here 20 years,” he said. “From experience, they give us raises based on what our insurance will increase to, so they may raise our salary by 3%, but in turn our health insurance raises by 3%, so we really didn’t improve at all.”

In a May city council meeting, the fire department presented a budget request asking for a $4,000 increase for all firefighters while also requesting an increase for a starting certified firefighter salary to $38,000.

We reached out to the city manager, who said he would not comment until after the budget is passed on June 14.

We also reached out to Milledgeville Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan, who did not get back with us.

We did speak with a council member.

District 4 council member Walter Reynolds explained the process of the request.

“We would love to make this permanent right off the bat,” he said. “But we do have to consider sustainability, so we’re using some of the Covid-19 relief funds that we have managed to keep in reserve to meet half of this budget request.”

The council is also planning to do a salary pay study.

Ussery says the department is not in favor of a proposed pay increase of $2,000.

One community member says the department needs the increase to help retain firefighters for the growing city.

“We need the people here to help us and protect us and be there for us essentially,” Chelsea Rodgers said.

 

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