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Funding firefighters

County approves funding based on call volume

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

The Carter County Fiscal Court approved a motion on Monday to continue funding paid weekend staff at the Grayson and Olive Hill Fire Departments, and to distribute a similar level of funding to other volunteer fire departments in the county.

The court first moved to approve a motion to continue funding the two municipal fire departments at a rate of $8,500 per quarter for the next fiscal year after their temporary funding promise expired at the end of June.
The county also took action to approve a motion that would give additional funding, on top of their normal funding, to departments based on their call volume.

Judge Executive Mike Malone explained that the Olive Hill and Grayson departments currently cover 69 percent of all fire calls between the two departments. The other 31 percent of calls are split between the Norton Branch, Grahn, Hitchins, and Carter City departments.

Based on the $8,500 quarterly payments offered to the two municipal departments, this comes out to around $98.94 per call answered.

To make it equitable to other fire departments the county has agreed to fund them, based on call volume in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years, at a rate of $98.92 per call. This amounts to a total of $30,069 with Norton Branch receiving $11,870 on top of their regular funding amount, Grahn receiving $9,001, Hitchins $6,627, and Carter City $2,571.

The court also moved to approve a request from the library to replace approximately $20,000 in funds that were lost in state aid. Malone praised the library for their resilience during the past year, noting that the already underpaid staff took significant pay cuts to keep the library open. He said while the county didn’t have the funds in their regular budget to make these payments, they were authorized to use funds from the COVID relief act to reimburse losses to a normal budget.

The court voted unanimously to approve the motion to make-up the lost state aid with the relief funds.
In other action the court moved to approve the sheriff’s quarterly report and heard concerns about the loss of
staff related to pay. Despite approving pay raises across the board for county employees, Sheriff Jeff May said the county was going to need to consider strategies for providing hazardous duty pay and retirement benefits if they expected to keep staff. Both the Grayson and Olive Hill departments offer hazardous duty benefits now, May said. Meanwhile his office, which should have eight deputies, has been operating with five due to injuries and loss of
staff to other employment opportunities.

The hazardous duty retirement costs aren’t insignificant, however. May said implementing them would amount to “about 18 percent more” than the county’s current retirement costs for the department.
The court also moved to accept the treasurer’s financial statement, and to approve the treasurer’s report, claims, and transfers.

After accepting other department reports, the court took action to approve premium pay for employees who weren’t included in previous payments for their work during the COVID pandemic.

Employees in the Sheriff’s department, clerk’s office, PVA, and the county attorney’s child support office will be awarded a one-time payment of $5,000 each for full time employees and $2,500 each for part time employees if they worked through the COVID pandemic.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com


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