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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • County moves EMS pay funding forward

  • The Leavenworth County Commission Tuesday appeared to agree ― at least for now ― to fund a $236,000 salary reclassification for its emergency medical services department.
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  • The Leavenworth County Commission Tuesday appeared to agree ― at least for now ― to fund a $236,000 salary reclassification for its emergency medical services department.
    That was after the director of EMS, Jamie Miller, told the commission in a hearing on his budget “enhancements” that he was having trouble retaining employees because pay in surrounding areas for comparable jobs was, generally, higher. He said most employees name this as a reason for leaving in resignation letters.
    “What happens is we hire them directly out of school, they get about a year of service, then they go get hired on with about a year of service at these other agencies,” he said. “Just in the last week, I've lost two more employees to KCK's hiring process.”
    Miller said that's not just compared to larger communities like Kansas City, Kan., or Johnson County, but to place like Bonner Springs or Butler County, Kan. On average, he said EMS employees are paid about $2 less in Leavenworth County than in many other communities. Each of those employees, according to Miller, cost the department between $8,500 to $10,000 to train in local procedures and outfit with gear and equipment. Adjustments to the wages in the past by the county have only been cost of living or baseline adjustments, Miller said, meaning 60 percent of his employees are still at their starting wage.
    His proposal would place those employees into wage brackets similar to those other communities.
    “They would have to have other reasons other than financial to move out,” he said.
    That request was only part of the EMS enhancement package ― Miller had also submitted requests for $211,000 to provide the three staff members necessary to staff a Basehor area EMS satellite, the funds to reinstate a shift position eliminated in an earlier budget year and about $50,000 to put into equipment reserve for the future replacement of the department's electrocardiogram machines, which date back to 2000.
    Commissioner Clyde Graeber said it's not likely that all those requests would be fulfilled.
    “You've got to realize that you're not going to get all of this with the current budget we have,” he said. “So what is your No. 1 priority?”
    Miller said most of those other requests, to some extent, hinged on the reclassification.
    “Without being able to start retaining individuals into that and training them into those type of roles,” he said. “It's a priority, it's a problem.”
    The commission agreed to include the reclassification and the reinstatement of the eliminated position in the next round of budget talks, though they took no official action.
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