INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Dispatchers for the Marion County Sheriff's Office are finally getting a substantial raise.
Monday night, the Indianapolis city-county council voted to end years of poor pay.
An investigation last year by our news gathering partner, CBS4, showed low salaries had led to sometimes long holds for people calling 9-1-1.
City officials went looking for a solution, which led them to $511,000 the city had received in excess funds from the state 911 board in 2016.
With the money, dispatchers will get raises to bring their salaries closer to what’s offered in the counties surrounding Marion.
With a final vote from Teamsters 135, the union representing the dispatchers, a pay schedule confirmed for the raises will heavily target issues of recruitment and retention.
First-year dispatchers like Joseph Heckman will take home $5,000 more a year.
“I think it would encourage more people to work in our department,” said Heckman. “It's just good for everyone. “
Good especially for Marion County residents, he says.
“With more money, you're obviously going to bring in more workers,” said Heckman. “With more workers, that would be more help to the civilians of Marion County.”
Though all council members voted in favor of the proposal, Councillor Jeff Coats of District 5 did express concern with the sustainability of the raise.
“It is a quick fix,” said Coats. “It's a Bandaid.”
The $511,000 being distributed came from the state 911 board’s fund. A change in formula led to Indianapolis receiving some money in 2016, but that won’t necessarily be consistent from year to year.
“I would hate to give pay raises, longevity pay to these folks, just to pull the rug out from underneath them in three years’ time, when the funding might not be there,” said Coats.
For now, dispatchers like Heckman will enjoy the raise and hope for the sake of Marion County residents that they find a solution before the money runs out.
Coats, says he hopes the issue is addressed during upcoming budget sessions before the money runs out.