Starting pay for entry level Scottsboro firefighters, police officers increases

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — The starting pay for entry level Scottsboro police officers and firefighter is going up.

Scottsboro firefighters put their lives at risk every day.

“We’ll run about 2,200 calls a year. Fire, wreck, EMS, different rescue situations,” said Chief Gene Necklaus.

Necklaus said that over the last several years, fewer applicants have been wanting to do the job – partially blaming a low starting pay rate.

“Probably a 50% or more decline in the number of applications we were getting and we felt pretty strongly that one of those reasons was starting pay, in addition to generally just a slow job market, I guess,” Necklaus said. “The people that were seeking employment were looking at jobs across North Alabama and a lot of big manufacturing jobs that come in and a lot of different other good opportunities and it was hard for us to compete with that.”

After some discussion between Necklaus and the city council, members approved a pay bump for entry level firefighters.

It went into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

“Any of the public safety departments you talk to in the state, maybe in the southeast have seen that. There’s just not that desire, it appears, or that want to get into this public sector, public work like there used to be,” said Necklaus.

Before the increase, entry level firefighters were paid just over $28,000 a year.

Now it has been bumped up to just under $30,000.

“They’re on scale, so there’s step raises annually of 5% roughly so it adds up pretty quick. They’ve improved the benefit package. They’ve also, this year, decided to move our new hires to TIER I RSA system which gives them a 25 year retirement benefit and they just started offsetting more of the family coverage insurance, which helps us get folks in here, too,” added Necklaus.

Entry level firefighters who have been in the department before the pay bump, will also see a proportionate increase on their checks.

Scottsboro interim police chief Ron Latimer was unable to speak on camera regarding the raise, but gave News 19 this statement:

“The increase in the Police starting pay rate was greatly needed to help in the recruitment of quality applicants to the Police Department. Quality applicants and officer retention has been an ongoing problem over the past 3 years. This pay increase will address some of those issues.”

-Ron Latimer, Scottsboro interim police chief

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