Budget for fire coordinator less than half state average

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warren County’s allotment for a full-time fire coordinator is half as much as the lowest-paid full-timer in that position across the state, supervisors were told Monday.

Eight full-time county fire chiefs in the state are paid between $40,000 and $59,000 a year, County Administrator John Smith said, citing figures from the Mississippi Insurance Department. The state insurance commissioner acts as the state fire marshal.

With $20,468.10 in early budget projections for the position in 2012-13, Warren County is hard-pressed to come up with the cash to stay competitive and balance the rest of the budget, he said.

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“We need to give some thought as to how much we want to pay the fire coordinator’s position,” Smith told the board during informal talks Monday. One application was taken in-house; more are expected once the board runs a formal public advertisement. A salary discussion is expected next Monday during the board’s formal session.

The coordinator function paid $21,500 during the past two decades. Former coordinator Kelly Worthy retired in May. State law mandates counties fill the position with a certified firefighter from volunteer or municipal forces.

Since Worthy retired, the board has agreed to take the job of managing garbage pickup out of the job title and hand parts of it to the environmental clerk and the building permit field officer. Raises of about $2,000 annually to each of those positions has come up in informal sessions of the board. Annual pay for the environmental clerk is $26,000. It’s $27,000 for the field officer.

District 2 Supervisor William Banks, who voted this month against the split in duties, said again Monday he’d vote against any raises.

“I’m voting against it anyway you go on that,” Banks said, offering no other comment.

Fire response outside Vicksburg is divided among six fire protection districts where additional millage rates are applied to property taxes for the service. Volunteer forces vary and have ranged from 85 to 100 people in the Culkin, Fisher Ferry, LeTourneau, Bovina, Eagle Lake and Northeast departments.