Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick has been Chief for less than a year, taking over for the retired Mike Napolitano. In early January, McCormick saw the Great Bend City Council fix a pay discrepancy in the department that existed for years. The large attendance of firefighters at last week’s special City Council meeting to discuss a compensation study would show that more needs to be done.
Great Bend Human Resources Director Randy Keasling noted the frustration from veteran firefighters might have existed for a while, but for sure since 2016 when entry-level salaries increased to attract workers to the department.
Randy Keasling Audio
Arthur Gallagher, a firm from Kansas City, performed the compensation study on the City of Great Bend for $31,725. The results showed most of the salaries from the City of Great Bend were close to the market average, but the few that were not should be brought up to the minimum market value.
The Captain position was discussed because Gallarger’s initial recommendation did not have a pay separation for those Captains that had their EMT, AEMT, or paramedic status. Gail Meriweather with Gallagher says that is something the city can look further into.
Gail Meriweather Audio
The concern with bringing employees up to the minimum is the raw deal that veteran staff receive. Workers employed for a year are pushed up closer to employees that have been with the department for several years.
Great Bend Mayor Joe Andrasek told the group of firefighters that the study is just the beginning to making things fair.
Joe Andrasek Audio
Prior to January, the pay rates for Battalion Chiefs were considered exempt staff with salaries while Captains, a position below Battalion Chiefs, were getting paid by the hour. A few examples showed some Captains were getting paid more or close to Battalion Chiefs because the Captains were earning overtime and were paid for their time. Battalion Chiefs’ salary amount was not adjusted for many of their mandatory obligations. The change of Battalion Chiefs going to an hourly position was the first time the discrepancy was altered since 2002.