PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - The bank accounts of firefighters and police officers are set to get a little heavier after research pushes Phenix City officials to change.
New research shows promise, but a 2012 report concerned Phenix City employees as it compared the town with others across Alabama with similar populations.
Since then, the city has increased the salaries of many departments to reach state wide averages, but jobs that concern public safety are set to rise for the next two years.
"We always want to keep the best people, but if you don't pay them fairly...and it's not just salary, you have to look at benefits, you have to look at health insurance. You have to look at vacation and sick pay," said Stephen Smith, Phenix City Financial Director.
City leaders are boosting both salaries and benefits for city employees, not only to attract the best and most qualified, but to keep them from working in other counties.
The process began back in 2011 and financial managers say they have increased pay for most departments. However, pay rolls for jobs concerning public safety are still on the rise.
"It's a very competitive industry out there and we don't want to spend two years training a police officer and then have that police officer take job in another city. It takes about two years to train a public safety employee, whether it be police or fire, that's a big expenditure on our part, a lot of effort we put in, bringing that individual up to the standards that we expect our people to meet, and then if you get them to that standard and they leave, that's a tremendous waste of taxpayer resources," Smith said.
Since their efforts began, the city has seen an influx of job seekers, something that might show they're inching closer to their goal.
"What we've seen is the quality of our applicants and the qualifications and level of education that they have, and the experience that they have has definitely gone up because this is a place that they want to come work now," said Stephanie Chastain, Human Resources Director.
Police officers, firefighters, and code enforcers got a pay raise in October 2014 and will see another five percent increase in October 2015 and October 2016.
City financial managers say the pay increase will be funded through the sales tax increase of 2009.