Time to pay public safety workers a decent wage
July 19, 2014 10:29 PM | 2659 views | 3 3 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Cherokee County facing a potential crisis in losing its trained public safety officials to higher paying jobs in the metro area, some hard decisions by officials and taxpayers alike must be made.

On Tuesday night, county taxpayers, emergency workers and families packed the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting to be heard, most urging that raises are necessary to keep the community safe.

The price tag to fund 10 percent raises next year for all certified deputies, firefighters and paramedics is estimated at about $4 million.

For many years Cherokee County has enjoyed an enviable reputation as one of the safest counties around. Residents have come to depend on the low crime rate, quick response time and professional level of services from law enforcement officials and firefighting personnel.

And when the Great Recession began, Cherokee County was one of the hardest hit, with property values taking a beating and new construction grinding to a halt. But now the economy is slowly getting back on track and property values are on the rise, and that means more tax dollars coming into county coffers.

For five years, from 2009 to 2013, there were no raises given to any county employees, including police and fire. Then, in 2014, employees received a 2 percent cost of living raise, but that didn’t even keep up with rising insurance costs for those who work for the county.

Leaders within the Sheriff’s Office and fire department say the drain on their personnel has left them with a crisis situation.

The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office alone is averaging about 38 officers a year who decide to leave, and already this year, 30 officers have turned in their resignation. That adds up to almost 200 deputies in five years. The Sheriff’s Office estimates to train a new officer costs an investment of about $92,000. Those costs are lost when an officer leaves, and that is also adding up.

Many residents are now speaking out that they would approve of a tax increase to fund higher salaries for deputies and firefighters. They say it makes more sense to retain the great public safety workers in Cherokee County than to let them go elsewhere.

Many say they hope the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners can find a way to raise salaries for public safety officials and they would support an increase in property taxes to pay some or all of that cost.

The average tax bill would go up somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 per year to fund a decent raise for those who put their lives on the line to protect us.

That seems a small price to pay to help keep our county a safe and great place to live.

Comments
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Do The Right Thing..
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July 22, 2014
First, this isn't about the "BoBo mess". It is about where we are right now with our First Responders.

To sit idly while we continue to lose some of the best First Responders in the state would be just another poor decision. If it is necessary to raise taxes $40 annually to attract and retain top tier First Responders for Cherokee County I'm all for it.

I'll get that additional $40 annual tax increase back in reduced insurance premiums and higher property values anyway. And even more importantly it will help keep Cherokee County safe and a great place to live.
Fed Up
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July 20, 2014
Again, we see that the only solution that our elected politicians can come up with is to raise taxes.

Again, we see that their poor choices have left the citizens of Cherokee holding the bag for all the problems with the BoBo mess.

Since the commissioners created the BoBo mess, have the Commissioners pay for the Bobo mess with non-taxpayers money!

There is the money to give LEOs raises, not increased taxes.

Stop raising taxes. Fix the problems that you created!
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