Pay scale alignment for Hattiesburg Fire Department on hold

Pay scale alignment for Hattiesburg Fire Department on hold
City Council reviewed the proposed pay scale alignment for the Hattiesburg Fire Department Tuesday. Source: WDAM.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Changes to the pay scale for the Hattiesburg Fire Department are on hold, for now.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker asked city council to table the item on the agenda at Tuesday's meeting. Barker said he wanted to give council members more of an opportunity to go over the proposal, since it was the first time presented to them.

The pay scale alignment include a $1,500 increase, per position, from the base salary with experience. It also includes a several thousand dollar increase for continuing education: $1,000 for an associate's degree or EMT training, $1,000 for a bachelor's degree and $1,000 more for a master's degree.

But, concern over the increase for college education being too low was addressed.

"This doesn't make me happy and I think, I know our firemen are worth more," said councilwoman Deborah Delgado.  "I do understand not having the money, but what can we do creatively?"

Delgado said she would like to see more money for individuals who are looking to further their education, including those who invested already in the education when they join the force. Council member Mary Dryden agreed.

"It looks like we just saw a nice chart or how somebody else did it, and we did it the same way," said Delgado.  "Higher education is expensive and hard and people go through a lot to make these strides for the purpose of making themselves more valuable in the workplace."

Chief Administrative Officer Ann Jones, who presented the pay scale to council members, said the city would like to provide a continuing education program for employees, including public safety, one day. The plan would give employees the option to continue education, free of charge.

City council approved a similar pay scale alignment for the Hattiesburg Police Department in January.  The approval for the pay scale alignment for the fire department is expected to be on another agenda in the coming weeks.