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'Not an issue for this year's budget': Milledgeville Fire Department wants $4K raises for firefighters

One firefighter says he loves what he does but that's not enough to support him and his family. He currently works four side jobs.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Milledgeville's Fire Department is asking city council for a raise. Firefighters are saying it's hard for them to live on what they're paid.  We went to talk to one about dealing with their current salary and what the city says. 

"I love what I do, but I'm sacrificing that time with family, I'm sacrificing raising my son because of this,” Nekelo Knight says. 

Knight has been with the Milledgeville Fire Department for over two years. He became a firefighter to be a good role model to kids.

"This was a vehicle that was presented to me to make that difference,” he says. 

Knight makes around $35,000 a year. He says he loves what he does but that's not enough to support him and his family. He currently works four side jobs.

"I have to go out and do other things. I have to do online businesses and stuff like that to start some residual income from coming in,” he says. 

Knight says his son misses him every day. 

"Is it that bad to where we can't have a pay increase to where I don't have to do that, that I can actually enjoy my loved ones the same as rescuing people so that they're able to continue to live a long life with their loved ones?” Knight says. 

Battalion Chief David Ussery says that due to inflation and the lack of a pay scale, they're struggling to keep staff. 

"Putnam County and Baldwin County are paying nearly $10,000 more for starting firefighters. We've got sergeants and lieutenants that have not had any pay raises in decades,” he explains. 

Ussery says that Fire Chief William Collier brought a plan to city council.

"He has proposed a $4,000 pay increase across the board to every member at Milledgeville Fire Rescue. Now that’s conservative,” Ussery says. 

City Manager Hank Griffeth says they can fund the raises for the next budget year.

"The good thing is it's not an issue for this year's budget. The not-so-good thing is we've got to make sure we can sustain it over the coming years,” he says. 

Griffeth says all city employees deserve more and he wants to budget for 3-5% raises for everybody.

Griffeth says he doesn't want to give raises that can't be sustained. The Milledgeville Fire Department is asking the public to come support them at the city council meeting Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. 

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