OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - There was a large turnout of firefighters at Tuesday night's Ocean Spring's budget meeting. Battalion Chief David Fisher said rumors drove them to the meeting. Several firefighters heard police officers were possibly getting a better pay raise than they were, this fiscal year. So, they showed up to find out for themselves.
"We come out as a group just to make sure that everything is on a level playing field with all the city employees," said Ocean Springs Fire Department Battalion Chief David Fisher.
When public safety departmental raises were discussed, several aldermen made it clear that they never intended to pay police officers more than firefighters, and that seemed to be just what these firefighters wanted to hear.
"I'm happy that my guys were able to hear from the aldermen and some of the city employees that what they're saying is true. That it's a level playing field and the pay is going to stay the same across the board," said Fisher.
While the mayor and aldermen won't be getting any sort of pay raise this year, Mayor Moran said it's important to keep the pay competitive for their public safety workers, because she is tired of Ocean Springs being a training ground.
"We invest a lot in training as does every city in these ladies and gentlemen, and we don't want to see them go off for greener pastures elsewhere," said Mayor Moran.
The money allotted by the city for raises will be distributed by the police and fire department heads to their employees. That way, the chiefs can distribute the money how they see fit.
"We have a three percent increase, not across the board, but left in each department head to determine by merit which employees get what and for our police and fire we've been able to realign so that a lieutenant makes the same amount as a lieutenant in police and fire," said Mayor Moran.
Another hot topic at the meeting was the significant proposed increase in the Jackson County Utility Authority's water and sewage rates. Mayor Moran proposed that all Jackson County cities meet with the utility authority together to get more answers. The city will officially vote on the budget at next Tuesday night's meeting.