Garner Cleveland Record

Garner firefighters to get holiday pay in the New Year

The town council has officially agreed to pay firefighters who don’t work on holidays 12.25 hours starting Jan. 1.

Currently, firefighters who are not scheduled on a holiday do not get paid for not working. Those that do work get regular pay.

The town recently had a group conduct a pay study that revealed pay at the Garner fire department was almost 15 percent behind the average of fire departments in the area. The department had also not received a raise since 2008.

The Garner fire department is unique in that part of its budget is paid for by the town and part of it is paid for by the county. The town pays roughly 54 percent, while the county pays roughly 46 percent.

Part of the reason the fire department hasn’t received a raise was the recession, but the other part is because the town and the county have not seen eye to eye when figuring out how much each government entity should pay.

The study also revealed that firefighters did not get paid for holidays they did not work.

Garner human resources director B.D. Sechler and Garner Fire Chief Matt Poole presented three options for paying firefighters, who do not work on holidays.

One option was paying firefighters that did not work, the full shift hours. Fire fighters work a 24-hour shift on their day to work.

That option would have cost the town more than $51,000 for the next four holidays until the next budget season, and more than $150,000 annually.

Another option was paying firefighters who did not work holidays 12.25 hours, and paying firefighters, who did work holidays time and a half. That would cost the town $26,000 for the rest of the year and almost $80,000 for a full year.

The last option was to pay firefighters who did not work holidays 12.25 hours. It was originally discussed at previous town council meetings. That costs the town $14,000 for the rest of the year and $42,000 for a full year.

“We talked about the (third option) and that’s the one I support,” Singleton said, “because as we move forward implementing the pay study next year, we don’t know what if any Wake County is going participate in. And we committed to that so that was a substantial increase.”

The town council had previously agreed to get the Garner fire department pay up to the market average over a two-year period, even if the county did not help out.

The county has previously said they are open to doing their part.

Singleton said the council could explore upgrading the holiday system in the near future after they implement the pay study.

Council member Ken Marshburn also agreed on that option.

The council unanimously voted to do that.

“We certainly appreciate any change in benefits that would help our employees,” Poole said.

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @GarnerCleveland