Budget Change To Address Hiring

SALISBURY – Wicomico’s executive says he will present a budget amendment next week to enhance recruitment and retention efforts within the areas of public safety.

Last week, Acting County Executive John Psota came before the Wicomico County Council to announce his administration’s efforts to bolster recruitment and retention within the county’s public safety and emergency services departments.

The announcement came after Psota informed the council of the retirement of Emergency Services Director David Shipley.

“I want to take this opportunity to advise you that Director Shipley and I have worked very closely to address the critical issue of recruiting and retaining 911 specialists,” he told council members. “As I have previously advised this council and the public, the Department of Emergency Services is experiencing major difficulties in attracting and retaining 911 specialists and communications specialists.”

Psota said careers in emergency services were some of the most stressful.

“The next call that you answer, regardless of how long you’ve been on the job, your life and those on the other end of the line could be changed in an instant,” he said. “What the Department of Emergency Services is experiencing is the same that other centers are experiencing across the country. A high turnover rate and the length of constant on-the-job training work together to cause a strain on maintaining staffing levels.”

To that end, Psota said he would present the county council with a proposed budget amend at the next council meeting, scheduled for March 15.

“I will be presenting at the next scheduled county council meeting a proposed FY22 budget amendment, the details of which are continuing to be sharpened,” he said. “This proposal will be the result of the county executive’s office’s salary study. When approved, it will enhance the competitiveness regarding recruitment and retention efforts in this critical area of public safety.”

Psota noted the budget amendment was just one of several efforts the county has taken to address hiring and public safety challenges.

In August, for example, staff presented the council with a plan to provide $3,000 in premium pay and $500 in signing bonuses to certified correctional officers, 911 specialists and communications specialists.

“I thank those of you who voted to approve those efforts,” he told the council.

The county has also doled out $80,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to each Wicomico County volunteer fire company to offset revenue losses from the pandemic.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.