ABBEVILLE — In an attempt to stem employee turnover, County Council voted to raise the pay of the county’s emergency medical services personnel and detention officers Monday night.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians will receive a 7% hourly raise. Although the starting wage for the former will now be $12.22 per hour, built-in overtime means their annual salary minimum will be more than $40,000.
Detention officers will see their pay go up by 4%, to a starting salary of $22,880.21.
County Director David Garner said the pay scale for more experienced EMS and detention center employees has yet to be finalized.
Councilman Drew Simpson was the only member to vote against the raise, saying he wanted more equity in the raises for detention officers who, he said, received a “smidgen” relative to EMS personnel. Councilman John Calhoun was not present.
Earlier in the meeting, the council approved third and final reading of a budget that includes new fees and taxes that would support the county’s law enforcement and soon-to-open animal shelter.
Council members voted 4-2 to approve the animal shelter fee, which would levy $9 per property. County administration had initially proposed a $17.50 fee. Simpson and Charles Goodwin voted against the fee.
Immediately after, the council voted on the budget at large, which had been amended in May to include a 5.5-mill increase to fund the purchase of equipment for first responders, and an increase in the municipal solid waste fee.
The 5.15 mills would add about $20 to the tax bill of someone with a $100,000 home and raise almost $351,000 per year — enough to fund a five-year capital expenditure plan County Director David Garner put together at the council’s request.
At a meeting in April, Garner said the move would save taxpayers money in the long run.
In recent years, the county has financed the purchase of equipment as needs arose using general obligations bonds, the issuance of which comes with a fee. In this case, Garner estimated the fee to raise the $1.5 million needed for the capital expenditure plan could total $500,000 over five years.
The municipal solid waste fee, meanwhile, will increase from $47.50 to $55 per household.