News12 at six o'clock/ Oct. 31st, 2013
Augusta,Ga (WRDW)---The city of Augusta is facing an $8 million budget shortfall for next year. Commissioners are required to have a balanced budget before the end of next month.
Next year, many departments are asking for more money for their employees. The city's 911 service is one of many on that list requesting raises.
"I think that was the wake up call for me to say wow this is what you're going to be dealing with."
Laycee Silas has been answering 911 calls in Richmond County since 2005. She's one of the first people you'll talk to during an emergency.
Silas and her coworkers coordinate with deputies, firefighters and emergency crews, all while trying to keep those on the other end of the phone safe and calm.
"I do understand we go through a lot on the job. We are pretty much the heartbeat, when it comes to emergency responses," said Silas.
911 dispatch is just one of several city departments requesting more money for their employees in next year's budget. We did some digging and found that entry level dispatchers for the city's 311 service actually earn thousands more than their counterparts on the 911 side. 311 doesn't take emergency calls.
"I wasn't aware that they are," said Silas.
"If there's a discrepancy in what the 311 operators make versus 911, we need to bridge that gap," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.
In the past four years, salary analysis and promotions have led to dozens of pay increases for high level employees. Commissioner Fennoy says those employees should have to sit out the next possible round of raises. Fennoy says, it's time to take care of those who answer the call on a daily basis.