Urban Development Dept. proposes pay incentives in Hattiesburg budget

The City of Hattiesburg continued to hold budget hearings, with a third meeting held Monday, Aug. 15.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg continued to hold budget hearings, with a third meeting held Monday, Aug. 15.

At the meeting, the City of Hattiesburg Administration and Urban Development departments presented proposed budgets to the city council.

“It’s a process of coming in and telling the council here’s what we’ve accomplished, here’s what we want to do in this next budget year,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “Here’s what we are advocating for with our employees in terms of salaries. Here’s some capital needs that we have, or some software needs, and there’s a little bit of all of that in every department.”

The Urban Development Department wants to add more projects to its agenda to improve the city, but Interim Director Wiley Quinn said they’ll need a little help.

“We might have other projects that we want to look to in the future, and we obviously are going to need one or two more employees in that division to be able to accomplish that,” Quinn said.

But it’s not just about hiring new employees, Quinn said. It’s about keeping the ones already there.

“We’ve had a lot of good people come and go in those divisions over the years, and the major issue is always pay,” Quinn said.

That’s why the department is hoping to create pay incentives.

“What I’m proposing is incentives for our officers to strive to be certified in those disciplines, but pay raises when they do get those certifications,” Quinn said.

One way he hopes to do that is by increasing pay by a dollar per hour per acquired certification.

“Technical inspectors can easily acquire four certifications: building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical,” Quinn said. “Code enforcement officers can obtain property maintenance and housing inspection, zoning and disaster assessment and inspection.”

He added that while some certifications are not required for urban development employees, they definitely help in situations like severe weather.

“Having people that are trained in those areas and certified to do those things, it helped us a lot in 2013 and in 2017,” Quinn said.

Budget presentations will continue Tuesday, Aug. 16, with the Hattiesburg Fire Department and Municipal Court.

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