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Council creates career ladder, pay scale for EMS

The Laurens County Council voted unanimously to put together a career ladder and standardize pay for the county’s EMS employees at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

County Administrator Jon Caime said the new organizational chart and pay scale for EMS workers will help retention within the agency.

“This career ladder will help people give people a way to stick with us,” said Caime. “We feel like we can be super competitive with the areas around us.”

Under the new standardized salary and rank structure, EMTs will start with Laurens County at $32,000 per year, which is less than some current EMTs are making, but there will be no salary reductions, Caime said. An EMT-A, which has more advanced training, will earn $34,000 per year. Paramedics are slotted in at $44,000 a year, up $1,500 from the previous salary slot of $42,500.

“It’s a buyer’s market for an EMT,” said EMS Director Matt Pennington. “We’ve got to have that competitive edge with salaries.”

Under the plan, paramedic field training officers will earn $45,000 annually. Lieutenants are slotted at $49,000 a year and captains at $52,000 a year.

Pennington also said the county is short six paramedics and has been short staffed for more than six months.

“We’ve received one application for a paramedic over the last six months,” he said.

The budget for the changes was approved with the recently passed 2019-20 county budget, but Tuesday’s vote outlined how that money will be spent.

Caime said the new structure will come in about $100,000 under the budgeted total.

Councilman Kemp Younts considered the plan a win for the county.

“It’s cheaper to retain who you have, right?,” Younts asked rhetorically. “It’s a no-brainer.”

In other action, county voted 6-0 to approve $50,000 in funding from dedicated FILOT (fees in lieu of taxes) moneys to build a park and community area at the former Ora school.

The funding request was made by County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Howard.

The FILOT funds are earmarked for community improvements. The park will include picnic areas and a large play area.

Negative rating removed

Moody’s Investor Services has restored the county’s A1 rating, a move that could save county taxpayers money on future debt service.

Moody’s noted the county’s improved fund balances, growth in the tax base and the moderation of debt and pension burden.

“This is a credit to Mr. Caime, the administration and this council,” said County Council Chairman David Pitts.

Horry County picks Gosnell

The Horry County Council removed the interim tag from Steve Gosnell’s title Tuesday night, naming him as the new county administrator.

Gosnell was chosen over three other remaining candidates for the position, including Laurens County’s Caime.

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