The Fire Chief Project: How To Handle the Salary/Budget Argument

What is the price tag for an experienced operator?

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When it comes to municipal budgets, we all know it’s difficult to ask for increased funding. And, unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to justify new positions or to ask for significant salary adjustments.

Today, I stumbled upon an article in the Marlin Democrat out of Texas that covered a recent budget request from Interim City Manager Dick Fletcher. Fletcher had asked the city council to upgrade its water department operations by hiring a water treatment supervisor with a Class A license from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. His argument? The increase in salary would be justified by an improvement in water department operations.

“But we are in dire need of experienced water operators, and  … have faced multiple TCEQ fines … egregious enough to pay an administrative penalty or do a supplemental environmental project,” Fletcher said in the article.

His request was ultimately denied, and the city council decided not to amend the budget to hire a Class A certified supervisor.

Assuredly there are other politics at play in the situation, but here at TPO, we wanted to applaud the argument, which was well intentioned:

Experienced personnel are important, and hiring such individuals can be a cost savings in the long run.

As we further the intention of The Fire Chief project, which is to raise the status of water operators within their communities, we hope these arguments lend more and more credibility as towns discuss the future of water departments.

What about you? Have you had salary increases or additional positions approved? How did you educate those making the decisions? Email me and let me know your story. Or, leave a comment here.


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