Tenn. county paramedics, EMTs get 10% raise

The Wilson County pay increase is in effect until the next budget season


Chandler Inions
The Lebanon Democrat, Tenn.

LEBANON, Tenn. — A 10% raise for Wilson County Emergency Management Agency paramedics and EMTs went into effect on Tuesday, which will run until the end of the fiscal year, in a move that county officials hope will stop personnel from leaving the department.

Its approval by the Wilson County Commission during its meeting on Monday night was the latest step in a months-long process to address the staffing shortages plaguing WEMA that have forced multiple stations to be closed for intermittent periods of time.

The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency was down 26 positions.
The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency was down 26 positions. (Photo/Wilson County Emergency Management Agency)

"We want to make sure our commissioners know how much we appreciate them for passing that (on Monday) and how important it will be for retaining individuals who are leaving," Colton Young, the vice president of the Wilson County firefighters union, said on Tuesday.

While he acknowledged that the increase was a move in a positive direction, Young said that his union's work is not done.

"There are still things that need to be fixed," he said. "We look forward to working with (the county) on those issues."

The decision to raise wages, specifically for paramedics and EMTs only, met unanimous approval from the commissioners. It will remain in effect until the next budget season. For that period of time, the expected cost is $185,000.

On Tuesday, Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard said that to extrapolate that out for a whole year would cost $597,000, so there is a conditional element for the raises to be paid for with new-growth revenue.

"Since that would be a recurring expenditure, you would need recurring revenue to pay for it," Maynard said.

The move comes after much deliberation among the Wilson County EMA Committee and the anticipation of a completed pay study to base countywide raises on.

During the budget committee meeting prior to the county commission meeting, where the resolution was passed, Maynard said that the raises for paramedics and EMT would be supplemental to the increases that those two positions would receive as a result from the completed pay study.

To date, the results of the pay study have not been released. However, Maynard indicated that the firm conducting the study had "assured him" that 10% would not put the employees above where they will be once the pay study plan is ultimately implemented.

"We're looking at numbers that will definitely be at least 10%," Maynard said. "I'm looking at some being around 15%, and some being around 20%."

There have been so many personnel departures since last year that the department was down 26 positions. The latest reports from WEMA indicated that an additional 35 personnel had put in applications to other departments.

Maynard characterized the situation as one in which the county's hands were essentially tied.

"When (WEMA Director Joey Cooper) tells me we are not going to be able to make it to July if we don't make a move, then, in my mind, it's no longer in the realm of choice," Maynard said. "We have to do something to ensure we are providing the emergency services to the residents of this county that they deserve."

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(c)2022 The Lebanon Democrat, Tenn.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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