Public safety study due soon
Some thoughts for public safety employees’ groups and their employers. The federal government establishes schedules and hours public safety employees can work before being paid overtime. The 24-hours/seven-days-per-week schedules are addressed in a number of ways so fire and police can work other than a 40-hour schedule, which is standard for most daily workers but not for 24/7 workers.
Some of the federal fire department schedules are as much as 52 hours in a week. The difference in pay between a 40-hour schedule and the fire/police schedule is considerable; at this point in time, public safety expenses account for 30 to 40 percent of the communities’ general fund expenses. This is a change in where community expenses used to be.
The public safety services are very important to us all; we need protection for our property and ourselves, but there is a limit to what the communities can pay for those services. I feel there needs to be a regional plan to coordinate public safety services in a more structured, efficiently organized manner. One would find there could be more flexibility in staffing, ability to respond with adequate resources as needed, broader opportunities for specialization and advancement, and a less burdensome environment in which to meet future training needs.
With approval from the elected officials of Barre City, Barre Town, Berlin and Montpelier, a public safety study committee was formed in 2009. This committee is getting ready to release the findings to elected officials and public safety officials in these communities. If finalized by the elected officials, the taxpayers of these communities may have the opportunity to vote on this plan.
Paul D. McGinley
Former Barre Town representative
on the Public Safety Study Committee
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