Martinsburg, WV, USA, Aug, 2018 -- The Berkeley County Council unanimously approved a proposed increase in the county’s 911 call center dispatcher pay scale that will cost the county $168,499 in combined wages at its meeting.
Berkeley County Administrator Alan Davis said the plan would not require any county general fund contribution.
Passed by a 5-0 vote, the plan increases the entry-level salary for first-year telecommunications dispatcher to $34,900 annually, Davis said.
Call dispatchers after one year of employment and requisite call center training would earn $37,900; after two years, $39,795, and after five years, $41,785.
"It appears that compensation is the main detriment to (call center employee) recruitment," Davis said.
Based upon a 40-hour work week, the new pay scale plan is effective retroactive to Aug. 1, Davis said.
The new pay scale is to keep Berkeley County competitive in call center employee recruitment and retention with surrounding state call centers. Davis said.
"The challenge that we are having with recruitment and retaining dispatchers certainly is not new," Davis said.
In December 2006, the council instituted a shift differential pay increase for 911 call dispatchers and added additional staff, Davis said. In 2013, the council increased 911 call dispatcher compensation and added 10 more staff positions, that could not be completely filled until the county opened its new 911 Call Center in October.
In November 2017, the Call Center hired nine new dispatchers and has retained six.
In calendar year 2017, the Berkeley County Call Center handled 81,230 911 calls.
Berkeley County Call Center Director Mary Kackley said a scarcity of 911 call center dispatchers is a national problem.
"I know that many people make remarks that this is a Berkeley County issue," Kackley said. "But this is a nationwide issue. I doubt that you are going find many 911 centers throughout the nation that are fully staffed and fully retain people for a long period of time."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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