WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Warner Robins is taking a hard look at its city pay scale and fairness. The City Council started last week by adding a new job to their fire department.
The Warner Robins Fire Department added the title of Battalion Captain to it's fire suppression division.
Chief Ross Moulton says this will allow for separate leadership in the northern and southern part of the city.
"It'll give us southside leadership in the city which we've been needing for a long time," Moulton said.
The position breaks up the responsibility for each stations. Making it easier for firefighters to quickly respond to incidents.
It's also great for career advancement.
"It's a promotion opportunity. One that they didn't have before in the history of the fire department," Moulton said.
The division has three other crews: administration, prevention, and training. Each starting at lieutenant rank with the opportunity to advance two additional ranks, with an increase pay with each promotion.
However, suppressions crews could only advance from lieutenant to shift commander. That means they're working harder, with less pay than their peers at the same rank in another crew.
It's an issue Mayor LaRhonda Patrick says isn't only happening in the fire department.
"The way that the cities pay scale is drafted right now, there are individuals who will be promoted to a position where the people who are under them will make more than they do," Patrick said.
She says that shows why the city is working on a new pay scale. Patrick believes city employees are underpaid in general.
"We already know that pay is lower than it should be, we just don't know what that number is, so that pay scale is going to define that for us," she said.
Mayor Patrick says the study will also better define positions.
She says city employees are paid less than they should be compared to other cities their size. She says their salaries are outdated.
"We haven't had a pay scale redefined in over a decade, so a lot has changed since then especially with inflation," Patrick said.
The hope is that this study will help them set wages that will boost morale and give workers what they deserve.
"It allows people a better quality of life, we are finding that with the inflation people are having a very hard time trying to afford mortgage, and especially afford rent. Groceries are on the rise, so this is better for our entire city overall," she said.
Mayor Patrick notes that other pay scale studies have been conducted in past administrations. She says they want to make the most of taxpayer dollars.
"We're looking at potentially getting those updated by the companies that did it originally, so at least were not having to pay for a fresh new process from the beginning. They can pick up where they left off, and it costs the city less money," she said.
They hope the pay scale will be complete by the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. They hope to be able to start changes then.
Patrick says they expect these pay raises to cost the city a lot, but so far they have no estimate. They plan to hand out the increases out in phases, starting with workers who are paid the least.