By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
To recruit and retain qualified employees, Grove City leaders have agreed to modify its labor contract with police dispatchers to include a higher pay rate.
According to City Administrator Chuck Boso, the city has lost three dispatchers in the past two years to the city of Dublin. He said Grove City’s wages were nearly 9 percent lower than what Dublin paid its dispatchers.
“We are trying to correct that situation,” said Boso.
Per the amended contract agreement, the base salary for dispatchers will increase by 8.75 percent this year and will increase by 3 percent each year from 2024 through 2026. For example, a new hire that would be in a probation period, currently makes $23.63 an hour. That hourly rate would increase to $25.70 and by the year 2026, the individual would make $28.08 per hour. On the higher end of the pay scale, a step five, or someone who has been with the department for some time, presently makes $32.95 per hour. That rate would increase to $35.83 this year and by 2026, that individual would earn $39.16 per hour.
“The dispatchers are vital to the operation of the safety department,” said Boso.
The dispatchers take emergency calls from Grove City, Jackson Township, Pleasant Township, and Prairie Township.
According to Kelley Davidson, the communications manager, the department receives an average of 7,700 calls for service per month. The department has a maximum staff number of 14, but that number has been as low as 10.
“It’s been critical these last few years,” said Davidson.
The communications manager said dispatchers were looking to move to other agencies that offered high pay and some just wanted more family or personal time. She said the novel coronavirus pandemic did not help staffing matters as dispatchers do not have the option to work from home.
“There has been higher turnover than usual,” said Davidson. “We recognize we need to be competitive and really appreciate the city’s investment.”
Davidson said she recognizes that being a police dispatcher is not a job for everyone. She said it can be high stress and high adrenaline, which can build up over time and wear a worker down.
“We do our best to create a positive work environment,” said Davidson. “We do things right.”
Davidson said the department offers wellness and peer support. She also said the job is very rewarding.
“We take pride in supporting people in their worst moment,” she said. “We serve people and support our responders.”
The dispatch department staffs three shifts. There is a minimum staff of three dispatchers during peak times (daytime) with relief staff in the morning and evening. Dispatchers undergo about six months of training and must earn a certification before starting a regular shift.