Garner town council members realize they have a problem with firefighter pay and they seem to be ready to address it. They do, however, want the county to help pay the additional cost. We think this is a reasonable expectation, considering the fire department is funded nearly equally by the town and the county.
We’ve written much in this space about the need for Garner and Wake County to come to some kind of final resolution regarding future funding for the fire department which serves areas both inside and outside Garner’s corporate limits.
The salaries, according to a study done by outside consultants are far below the average for similar departments and that shortcoming poses a distinct problem for the local fire department as it seeks to grow to better serve a growing community.
We think this is an opportunity for Wake County commissioner Matt Calabria to step up to the plate and advocate on behalf of his constituents in the Garner area. We would like to see him start this conversation with his fellow county commissioners and press them into an appropriate response. Calabria’s a smart guy with a friendly relationship with his fellow board members. He certainly has a strong argument to make on behalf of his constituents.
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The ultimate end to this tug-of-war over responsibility for fire service will involve Wake County’s departure from the scene. They will, at some point, remove themselves from the obligation of providing the service. At least that seems to be the path the county is on at this point. That means the town of Garner will continue to absorb increasing costs on an annual basis. With the coming development of yet another residential neighborhood along the U.S. 401 corridor, the need for more facilites – and more people – will continue to grow. Other neighborhoods are popping up just outside the town’s boundaries – in Wake County’s jurisdiction – and the demands for service there continue to grow as well.
Chief Matthew Poole and his officers will need to find good men and women who can respond to the needs in those areas. Finding a good employee and then offering to pay them more than 10 percent less than what they can make in similar jobs in other nearby communities is a sure way to experience rejection.