BIBB COUNTY, GA — Bibb County commissioners are set to vote on this year’s 2020 budget on Tuesday, which includes no tax increase and no raises for county employees.
Members of the Macon-Bibb Fire Department and Bibb County Sheriff’s Office say without those pay increases, they’re going to continue to lose well-trained employees to smaller counties.
Sargent Richard Senter spends his weekends unwinding at home. “I’m sick of it,” said Senter.
Lately, he’s been frustrated with Bibb County commissioners and he’s not going to sugarcoat his feelings. “This should be the best-paid agency in middle Georgia. We should be taking officers from every other agency. They should want to be working for us instead of wanting to work for them,” said Senter.
Senter served with the sheriff’s office since consolidation and with the Macon Police Department for 4 years before that.
He say deputies need a pay scale that’s enforced and without incentives bonuses, they’re losing deputies 2:1.
“Law enforcement is having a hard time over the country, but the way other counties are handling the problem are drastically different,” said Senter.
Macon’s Sheriff David Davis urging people to call the mayor and commissioners to ask for county employee raises after being consistently more than 100 deputies short for the last year.
Davis says smaller agencies are recruiting their deputies.
Garin Flanders has been with Macon-Bibb Fire Department for 13 years.
“Right up the road, the Clayton County Fire Department, right now, they’re looking and actively recruiting firefighters,” said Flanders.
He says they’re 80 firefighters short.
“Starting pay for these guys on a 2-week fast track are equivalent to what our sergeants make who have been here 7 or 8 years,” said Flanders
Flanders says fires like the High Street fire could have left more firefighters injured.
“We were very fortunate that fire happened in downtown Macon and not in the county. It’s just a matter of time of when it happens — a firefighter is trapped in something and there’s not enough manpower to help them out. What is that lawsuit going to cost the taxpayers?” said Flanders.
Virgil Watkins, head of the operations and finance committee, says it would cost the county $4 million for a 4% pay increase for all employees.
That would increase taxes by $40 a year on a $100,000 home.