Recent personnel changes in Richmond Hill’s fire and police departments have prompted the city to conduct a job classification and compensation study.
City council Tuesday night approved the measure, which will also include the park and tree department, at a cost of $10,775.
Fire Chief Ralph Catlett told the council that four member of the department have recently resigned to take higher paying positions in other municipalities. That includes a lieutenant, a sergeant and two firefighters with a combined total of more than 35 years of experience.
“It’s bad enough to lose four members of the department all at once like that,” Catlett said. “But it is really tough to lose all that experience.”
Catlett said the average service across the department is now less than five years.
In a letter to City Manager Chris Lovell, Catlett said the RHPD is currently conducting testing within its ranks for the vacant sergeant’s position and is in the process of interviewing prospective applicants for three firefighter positions.
Catlett’s sought approval from city council for a budget increase of $32,000 and is planning to convert the lieutenant’s position to a captain’s position. A candidate for that job has already been interviewed and is a 20-year veteran currently with the Augusta Fire Department.
Of the $32,000 increase that council approved, $19,000 would go toward an increase in pay for the vacant lieutenant’s position, allowing Catlett to make a salary offer of $57,000 for the new captain’s position.
“He is well qualified and holds several certifications at or above what is required,” Catlett’s letter said, adding that the candidate “has all the knowledge and leadership experience our department desperately needs.”
The rest of the money in Catlett’s request would go toward new equipment and uniforms for the new hires.
The RHPD, which has seen several personnel changes and promotions over the past few months, will also be included in the study.
Lovell said that the park and tree department was added to the mix because the city does not think it receives enough applications when that department advertises job openings.
“We don’t get a lot of interest when parks has openings, but we’re not sure if it’s the pay or not,” Lovell said. “So before we just throw money at it, we have to figure out if it’s a problem or not.”
The study will be conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government from the University of Georgia and will create job classifications that will be compared against wage survey data to establish compensation levels for affected positions.