Pay study underway for City of Columbus employees amid staffing shortages
COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The city of Columbus needs to hire 130 police officers to bring the force to full strength. Recently, the city council commissioned a study to determine if pay and benefits in Columbus are high enough to compete with surrounding agencies.
Mayor Skip Henderson said the staffing issue within the Columbus Police Department is what sparked this pay study. He explained staffing shortages are being felt nationwide, but said right now, salary for City of Columbus jobs is not matching up with private entities.
“New truck drivers are starting at between $90,000 and $110,000,” Henderson told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams. “We were paying ours $16 an hour.”
A $325,000 study is underway right now to re-examine pay for hundreds City of Columbus positions. This, following staffing shortages across the board, most notably in the Parks and Recreation department, where Henderson said there are more vacancies than positions filled right now. Also, the Metra system, which is down roughly 25 drivers and the Columbus Police Department which is 130 officers down.
“We know we have to make some adjustments, but to it randomly without any defined, organized approach to able to solve these things didn’t make much sense,” Henderson said.
We talked with Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon who said a sergeant’s starting salary ranges from $44,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on one’s education level. He explained this study will be a boost to competitive pay, not only entry level positions, but also throughout the ranks, eliminating compression. Right now, not all salaries match current ranks, meaning some junior positions make more money compared to senior positions.
“We are experiencing a very competitive market right now because there are so many job openings,” Blackmon told us. “Our men and women at the police department, they are valuable employees, so they are highly sought after.”
Already preparing to implement pay hikes following the completion of this study, $10 million dollars is set aside out of the city’s general fund to make the changes deemed necessary.
“We want to make sure that we have identified funding to go ahead and implement it at some level,” Henderson said. “Obviously, we’re not going to implement it at a level that is not sustainable.”
The study’s expected completion is late this year. Mayor Henderson would like to see the financial findings implemented by early 2023.
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