The Montgomery County Council signed off Tuesday on next year’s $36.4 million budget.
The budget has a general fund of more than $13.1 million. The new spending package includes a 2% pay increase for employees, and the council approved a series of other salary changes recommended by the ERPS committee.
Among the changes, 911 dispatchers will be reclassified as public safety employees, a revision sought following a change in state law. Sherri Henry, director of the Central Communications Center, said having dispatchers recognized under the same umbrella as first responders had been a “huge hurdle” to overcome for the county.
The committee reviewed a consulting firm’s compensation report finding the county ranks second-to-last for starting dispatcher pay in the area. The study was part of a larger needs assessment underway at the center, which has been down five employees since the end of August.
ERPS members reduced the report’s recommendations after looking at the salaries “in relation to other public safety positions,” county administrator Tom Klein told the council.
The committee advised increasing the annual salary for dispatchers — including probationary employees — by more than $6,000 to $41,000. That’s nearly $1,000 under the study’s recommendation.
The director’s annual pay would go to $63,000 from about $55,000. The study called for $700. The assistant director’s salary would increase to $56,000 from about $52,000. The study recommended about $59,000 for the position.
New salaries will not be formalized until the council approves the 2022 county salary and appropriation ordinances.
The committee also recommended more compensation for truck drivers at the highway department, which is losing employees to higher-paying jobs at other agencies. Six driver positions are currently vacant.
Highway director Jake Lough requested a $4-per-hour raise for each driver to about $20 per hour. The current hourly rate is the lowest among surrounding counties, he said.
The increase adds about $140,000 to the department’s budget. ERPS members said they were confident that gas tax revenue would cover the additional cost, but recommended leaving three of the driver positions unfilled to ensure enough money.
Salary changes were also recommended for the clerk’s office, conservation director and mapping department.