MANCHESTER – A recent township ordinance will increase salary ranges for several township positions, including police dispatchers, part-time employees and maintenance workers.
“We’ve had a big problem with keeping dispatchers. We’ve lost four in the last half year,” said Councilman Craig Wallis at a recent council meeting. He added that there is a lot of training involved in getting dispatchers up to code, and that Manchester offers great working conditions, but many ultimately leave to seek higher salaries, sometimes $20,000 to $30,000 more a year.
“This is not bringing them up to the top of the scale around here, it’s not even really to the minimum, it’s probably just to the scale where other towns are paying, but it’s a good step,” he said.
Manchester Police Chief Lisa Parker said that the last straw was receiving a call from county dispatch asking her if they should put another dispatcher on, since she had two sitting at the desk. She realized the situation had become an officer safety issue, and that she couldn’t have officers out on the road without qualified dispatchers sitting at the desk.
“We might have been able to get away with this 10 or 15 years ago, but Manchester is not the same community that it was 10 or 15 years ago,” she said, adding “We are constantly turning over excellent people who would like to stay because we have a great working environment, we have a great set of dispatchers.”
Full-time dispatchers were previously in a salary range of $35,000 to $60,000. That will now be bumped up to $42,000 to $66,000. Part-time and per diem dispatchers will now make between $18 and $30 per hour. Previously, the high end was $20 per hour.
As soon as it became an officer safety issue, Chief Parker said that Mayor Kenneth Palmer and the town council immediately addressed it.
The new salary ranges were kept a secret until it was official, as not to upset any workers in case the deal fell through. Parker said that when the dispatchers found out, some of them were in tears.
“The common goal is always give the best service that we possibly can to the community while keeping cops safe,” said Parker.
Part-time maintenance workers and para-professionals will also move up from minimum wage of $8.38 an hour to $15 per hour.
Another big change is moving part-time UCC subcode officials off minimum wage to $37.50 an hour, which more closely aligns with the full-time salary for that position of $40,000 to $80,000 a year. The deputy director of public works position will also see its high end range increase from $92,000 to $110,000.
“There were a number of positions in the township that are very difficult to fill and our salaries were well below everyone else in the county and the state,” said Council President Samuel Fusaro.
Fusaro said that while changes are made to the township’s salary ordinance every year as salaries rise due to inflation, this was somewhat of a special change. He echoed Councilman Wallis in saying that Manchester was basically a teaching facility for first year township employees, and that after that first year they would leave for places that paid higher salaries.
This was especially prevalent, he said, with dispatchers, maintenance and part-time workers, all whose salary ranges have been raised with the adoption of this ordinance on August 28.