ATHENS, Ala. – Valuable first responders are leaving Athens agencies to work for neighboring ones that are paying them more.
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks is working to put a stop to that by presenting a proposed public safety pay scale proposal to Athens City Council on Monday.
The proposal raises base pay $6,000 for Athens Police officers and $3,000 for Fire and Rescue.
Athens Police Department Operations Captain Anthony Pressnell said he saw a number of his fellow officers resign from Athens P.D.
“These surrounding agencies are making 5,6,7,8 thousand more than, to start out, than what we are,” Pressnell said.
Losing officers has been an issue for over a year, according to Pressnell. He said that while neighboring agencies have been raising their base pays for years, Athens P.D. has not until now.
“What we’re wanting to do is get our pay up where we’re competitive with these cities to not only recruit officers but retain the officers we already have here. We’ve lost several to different agencies,” Pressnell said.
Mayor Ronnie Marks said these positions are too valuable to be losing out to neighboring agencies. He brought his proposal to City Council and expects an update on its status soon.
“I believe that city council will not take action on it this coming Monday, but the following Monday, following council meeting, I expect them to take action,” Mayor Marks said.
Marks mentioned the money to pay these increases is available, having been set aside from sales tax revenue. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the pay scale approved.
“It’s about $650,000 if they act on fire department and police department,” Marks said. “It should go into effect, I would think, at least by the first of the year if not sooner.”
As for Pressnell, he hopes the proposal passes for a big reason:
“We know we’re losing a good officer. It’s an officer that we’ve invested a lot in, trained so whatever agency he leaves and going to, they’re getting a really good trained officer,” Pressnell said.