Carteret commissioners approve 12.5% raise for 911 communications center staff in effort to recruit, retain workers

A telecommunicator at the Carteret County emergency communications center fields 911 calls in this photo from July 2020. The County Board of Commissioners recently agreed to increase pay for all workers in the center by 12.5%. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — In an effort to better recruit and retain workers in the field, the Carteret County Board of Commissioners recently approved a 12.5% across-the-board pay increase for employees in the emergency communications center.

According to information from Carteret County Emergency Services director Stephen Rea, the center is experiencing a staffing shortage, with eight positions in currently unfilled. He said the job is a stressful one, leading to high turnover and difficulty with recruitment, but officials hope a pay boost will help attract and keep workers.  

The pay increase was included on the consent agenda for the board of commissioners’ monthly meeting Nov. 15. As part of the consent agenda, the increase was approved without further discussion among commissioners, though the topic had been brought up during previous meetings. 

In September, the board agreed to a 10% pay raise for all Carteret County Sheriff’s Office employees, at the request of Sheriff Asa Buck. At the time, commissioners and county manager Tommy Burns were supportive of the increase, but said they’d like to see similar raises for other departments, especially the emergency communications center, which has struggled with staffing for a while.

“We are at minimum staffing at this time,” Mr. Rea noted in September after the board of commissioners approved the CCSO increase.

The 12.5% pay increase approved in November applies to all existing and future workers in the county’s emergency communications center, which fields 911 calls and dispatches first responders to assist callers. Under the increase, the starting salary for a telecommunicator went from about $33,100 annually to $37,284.82 per year. For assistant supervisors, starting salaries increased from about $37,200 to $41,893.23 yearly and for supervisors it went from roughly $41,800 to $47,071.23.

Under the 12.5% raise, the emergency communications center director will start out making $70,777.71 annually, compared to $62,913.52 before the raise. For the remainder of FY 2021-22, the increase will cost the county $42,500.

The increase, which took effect Nov. 20, translates to a yearly additional cost of approximately $71,000, according to Carteret County public information officer Nick Wilson. He said the cost will be funded out of lapsed salaries for the center.

Mr. Rea said in addition to increasing pay, the county plans to partner with Carteret Community College to help recruit more workers for the 911 center.

 

Note: This article was updated to 3:21 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

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