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By Marian Galbraith, staff writer
The Coffee County Budget and Finance Committee approved a temporary increase of 30 cents per hour on Thursday for 19 employees of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS).
The increase does not need to be approved by the full commission since funds are available in the existing EMS budget to provide them.
However, according to Ambulance Authority chairman Jimmie Bradford, these paramedics and EMT’s actually need even higher increases to avoid losing employees to other services in the area. But the committee wanted more analysis done to ensure the new salaries were appropriate and consistent with an outside salary study that is currently underway.
The salary study is for all county employees and is starting with EMS, but results were not complete by the time of the meeting.
Bradford initially presented a list of proposed wage increases for the 19 employees developed by outgoing EMS director John Cathey.
The proposed increases ranged from 18 cents per hour to as much as $1.34 per hour, but Bradford admitted that the Authority itself had not studied Cathey’s numbers in enough detail to understand the justification for each individual’s increase.
“I promised these people they would get some increase by this month, so if it’s going to be another month or two, I need to at least give them some amount for now, like 25 cents or so, and then maybe the rest later. Would that be possible?” Bradford asked, but then requested to “round that up” to 30 cents an hour instead.
Chairman Rush Bricken said he did not have a problem with that, since the funds were there but admitted that allowing wage increases for only one department could “open Pandora’s Box” since other departments might expect increases also.
Accounts and Budgets director Marianna Edinger agreed, and, perhaps jokingly, suggested starting with her own department.
“I think my staff should get raises first,” Edinger said, “especially since they’re the ones who have had to take over the EMS billing operation and learn all those medical codes and everything else.”
Read the complete story in this week’s (Jan. 30) print edition of the Manchester Times. Click here to subscribe to the print and/or full online edition.