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Livingston Firefighter Upset About New Pay Scale, Aldermen Question

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Livingston Firefighter Upset About New Pay Scale, Aldermen Question

A Livingston firefighter addressed the Board of Aldermen Monday night over concerns about the city’s new pay scale.

At the heart of the concerns expressed by Engineer Gavin Rodriquez, the city had not done enough to take care of its firefighters. Rodriquez said a new hire could make more than existing employees.

“I feel the city has the best fire department it’s ever had,” Rodriquez said. “They have built a great team and department. They have made some big steps in adding some much needed personnel. In years past, they were dependent on volunteers. But those days were coming to an end as volunteers are a dying breed. Now, because of the pay scale, they stand to lose a number of those full time firefighters. You may not think it’s a big deal or maybe that replacing these firemen won’t be a problem, but I think in time, you’ll be as sadly mistaken by that as we have been disappointed with the current new pay scale.”

HR Solutions’ Cindy Bryant told the Aldermen that could occur. But it would be rare. She said the issue for the city right now, Livingston has not kept up with the marketplace.

“Our goal and our hope is that all of you who are currently here, we create a progression, whether it’s from that one to a two to a reserve engineer to an engineer to an assistant chief,” Bryant said. “We create a progression so that our internal people can move up and be paid more. And we’re only hiring for inexperienced firefighters, and that will help balance that out.”

The salary study, conducted by Bryant and her company, pulled an average of firefighters from communities the size of Livingston as well as medium and large size communities. The goal, Bryant said was to make Livingston competitive.

“One of the reasons we recommended what we did is because quite frankly, your pay over the years has not kept up with the market,” Bryant said. “When you are offering a 15 cent per hour increase each year, you’re not keeping up with the market. So we try to build into our wage plan keeping up with the market at 3 percent per year.”

Mayor Curtis Hayes said there were clerical mistakes made in the original study setup for the fire department, but those were quickly corrected. Bryant said the city’s payroll data showed only three tiers of firefighters, when there are actually more than double that.

In other business, the aldermen approved a new fee schedule for the police department. Accident reports will increase from $6 to $10. Citation costs will rise to $200 from the current $158. The cost of Safety School will also increase from $60 to $100.

Police Chief Ray Smith said the increases were needed to keep up with rising costs. Smith said he researched neighboring communities and found Livingston’s fee schedule behind.

“It seems like the city of Livingston is paying for other people’s problem,” Smith said.

Fencing for the pickleball courts will move forward after aldermen approved a bid for $35,250.


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