Blount County 911 employees could see a 50 cents per hour pay increase across the board after October if a plan discussed during a recent work session is approved by the board. 911 Director Neal Brooks discussed the idea as the board looked at a new budget for the upcoming year.
Brooks said the pay increase would bring Blount County up to a competitive level and be similar to the pay scale used in Chilton County, which is similar to Blount in that law enforcement and fire are combined. He said Blount’s $13.50 starting pay is not very competitive as some fast food restaurants are starting at higher pay. “We need to be competitive,” he said, while also pointing out that the call volume has increased.
The board also discussed costs of health insurance, training, computer software costs, advertising and public education, facility improvements, and capital projects including repeaters, replacing servers, the communications vehicle, and what action to take with a maturing CD.
Brooks reported that a $213,854.15 CD will mature on Sept. 13, and board member Ken Campbell suggested they consider closing it out and rolling it over to pay a note the board has. Board attorney Alex Smith suggested they ask the bank to produce a new amortization sheet on the basis of rolling the CD over to help pay on the existing note.
On the topic of health insurance, Brooks said about 19 employees are now on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, so he recommends allowing $14,000 into the budget for “some wiggle room” in the event additional employees wished to participate and to compensate in case of an increase in costs.
On other budget matters, Brooks said the state has provided some training to employees which has helped the board save money. He told the board he would like to see employees get 24 hours of training/certification per year.
On a recommendation from Campbell and board chairman Brandon Horton, Brooks said he could clean up some line items regarding computers, software, and regular maintenance.
The board members also discussed backup servers and the possibility of locating them off-site at the Blount County Courthouse, connecting via microwave instead of the Internet.
Brooks also urged the board to consider additional storage space for the communications vehicle 911 shares with the county. Campbell agreed, “We’ve got to do something in this budget. We need storage badly.”
A small amount has been placed in the proposed budget for advertising and public relations for outward education programs in schools and senior centers.
The need for exterior signage was discussed. Presently the 911 building has no identification on it.
Any discussed action in a work session must come before a regular board meeting and be voted on. The board meets the third Thursday of each month, at 9 a.m., in the 911 Center conference room.