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Cobb Board Approves “Step and Grade” Pay Plan For Public Safety

BOC and Public Safety officials
February 10, 2020

Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners approved a “step and grade” pay plan for sworn public safety personnel that will raise starting salaries and provide an increase to most others already employed.

“We hope this will be an important step to attract quality people to join our police department, fire department, and Sheriff’s Office,” said Interim Public Safety Director Randy Crider. “We also hope this will be an opportunity to retain the sworn officers we have now and provides a message to those in public safety in Cobb that we are committed to a plan moving forward.”

“We have been saying that public safety is our number one priority, and now we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” said District Three Commissioner JoAnn Birrell. “I can assure you as long as I’m in this seat it will remain my number one priority.”

The transition to the plan will cost $5.7 million, which will be paid for largely by an increase in Title Ad Valorem Tax funds received from the state this year. This plan will increase the starting pay from $41,615 to $46,000 to improve recruitment, and all other pay grades for sworn classifications have been adjusted upwards to improve retention. The county manager and board will review the plan each year to determine effectiveness.

“We have been working on this a long time and it is long overdue,” Sheriff Neil Warren told the commissioners. “It is something we need to get started on. This is for the hard-working men and women who put their lives on the line every day. It is something that has to be done so we can maintain the quality of law enforcement personnel we need in this county.”

The implementation of step and grade follows several actions taken by the board last year to address the difficulty of attracting and keeping public safety employees. The board approved an education and shift differential pay program, retention incentives, county-funded state retirement dues, a 3 percent pay adjustment for sworn public safety positions and a 4 percent merit increase.

“I hope our actions over the last year will show that we are moving in the right direction,” said District Four Commissioner Lisa Cupid. “I’m glad to support this tonight, but I know at some point we’ll have to determine an ongoing source of revenue.”

Commission Chairman Mike Boyce called the vote “one of the biggest nights for this board,” before inviting dozens of public safety workers in the audience to join him at the front of the room for a picture commemorating the event.

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Ross Cavitt | Cobb County Communications |