E-911 makes salary offer

Published 11:25 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Current E-911/EMA director Kristi Stamnes must decide by noon Friday if she will accept a $37,600 position as the county’s EMA director or a $41,000 salary as the county’s E-911 director.

Either way, it would be a pay cut for Stamnes, who currently earns $45,900 a year. The county commission voted Monday to end a nine-year agreement combining the position of director for the county’s EMA and E-911.

E-911 board members were notified of the commission’s intent last week and met Tuesday to outline their salary proposal to Stamnes — which includes benefits, but no take-home vehicle.

At present, the county pays 80 percent of the E-911/EMA director’s total salary. E-911 is responsible for the remaining 20 percent, or approximately $8,300. The split now requires both to pay 100 percent of their respective directors’ salaries; however, the state reimburses the county 50 percent of the EMA director’s salary.

“We looked at the expenses and revenue to date, compared them to what has actually been spent, and were able to cut our budget $65,000 in expenses,” said board member Wayne Godwin, who met with chairman Cody Ward on Monday to review the figures. “We cut everywhere we could possibly cut significantly, but we didn’t cut any other employee’s salary and there will be no reduction in services to the public.”

Cuts included the probable sale of a Jeep, an $8,000 reduction in conference and training expenses, a $2,000 reduction in office supplies and a $50,000 reduction in wages.

Ward explained the reduction in wages included a vacant dispatcher position that was budgeted but not yet filled and the wages of a dispatcher who has indicated a plan to resign. Currently, there are 12 dispatchers employed at the E911 office and two office personnel.

Notable increases to the budget included costs for two new computers, postage and a nearly $15,700 increase in the reserve fund.

Ward said four Alabama counties — Wilcox, Clarke, Autauga and Marengo — were polled to determine a comparable director’s salary. Each of the counties was comparable in emergency call volume and relative in size, with their directors’ salaries ranging between $36,000-$44,000 annually, he said.

“Kristi has 10 years of experience in this position,” Godwin said. “If you look at that 10 years experience and her other qualifications, it’s going to be hard to hire on this caliber on this salary if Kristi doesn’t take it.”

Board members agreed the $41,000 offered is only applicable to Stamnes. No other salary was set, nor were any of the position qualifications announced in the event Stamnes does not take the job.

“We tried to be fair (when setting the salary),” Godwin said. “We wanted to keep (the salary at her total current level), but we just couldn’t.”

Board member Jeff Holland expressed concern at the $41,000 figure, stating he felt it was “higher than expected.”

“My biggest concern is that I want to make sure we’re not cutting ourself too short for the unseen stuff,” Holland said. “If we get hit by a disaster, it’s going to take time for (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to reimburse us. It won’t take no time to eat through that reserve.”

Both Godwin and Ward assured board members the figure was “a good salary.”

“Over the 10 years, we’ve never been out of budget,” Godwin said. “We’ve made adjustments, but we’ve never overspent anything.”

After unanimously approving the salary proposal, board members also asked for at least a two-week notice in the event Stamnes chooses not to accept either position.

Both the commission and the E-911 board agreed on a June separation deadline, and under the split, the EMA office will be relocated to the county administration complex on Hillcrest Drive and staffed by a fulltime director and part time assistant director. In the event Stamnes does not become the EMA director, county officials said they would first advertise the position in-house before opening it up for applications.