Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hancock County’s 911 dispatchers to see increase in pay

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Craig Howell
PAY RAISES — The Hancock County Commission, during its meeting Thursday, approved pay increases of $2 per hour for county 911 dispatchers. Pictured, from left, are Commissioners Jeff Davis, Eron Chek and Paul Cowey.

NEW CUMBERLAND – In an effort to keep on pace with other counties in the area, the Hancock County Commission has agreed to increase the pay rates of the county’s 911 dispatchers.

During their Thursday regular meeting, commissioners unanimously approved an increase in pay for the county’s 911 dispatchers of $2 an hour.

“We’re trying to get them to a competitive place,” Commissioner Eron Chek explained, noting the funding was available in the budget the commission approved earlier in the meeting for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Commissioner Paul Cowey indicated pay rates have become competitive for the positions in neighboring cities and counties, with Hancock County often seeing dispatchers leave for other work opportunities, both in and out of the field.

“We have some great dispatchers. We don’t want to lose them,” Cowey said.

Commission President Jeff Davis added the county currently has spots for 13 full-time dispatchers, but only eight of those jobs are filled. Including part-time staff, the county typically has been budgeted for between 15 and 20 dispatchers, also known as public safety telecommunicators, according to the county’s website.

“It’s very difficult for us to hire and retain,” Davis said.

A listing for a full-time dispatcher position currently posted to the county’s website details the requirements of the position, including receiving emergency and non-emergency calls, applying call-screening protocols and dispatching the appropriate agency.

It is noted employees spend approximately 90 percent of their time seated with limited opportunity for physical activity during their shift, with the possibility of working 18 hours during a shift. In order to be hired, applicants also must be authorized to work in the U.S. and be able to pass a thorough criminal background check and a drug test.

In other employee matters, the commission also agreed to an amendment to the insurance plan policy for the county, agreeing to pay the 20 percent of medical premiums which previously had been the responsibility of many of the county’s employees.

“We’re going to pick up 100 percent of that benefit,” Chek said.

It was noted, at one point newer county employees were required to pick up 20 percent of their premiums, with the county paying the remaining 80 percent. Older employees, though, hired under a previous policy, were able to continue receiving the full benefit.

“This will be bringing everybody up to 100 percent,” Cowey said.

The new policy will be effective with the April 15 payroll.



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