Ozark Raises Starting Pay for Firefighters and Police Officers

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Ozark Police and fire departments are now getting a little more money in their pockets. The city has approved a starting salary increase for police and firefighters and a general pay increase for its employees.

Ozark Fire and police departments have had high turnover in the recent years. Leaders say it's mostly due to the low pay, and they say they are now trying to make that pay more competitive.

Before now, starting pay for Ozark Police and firefighters was $9.58 an hour.

Now, the city has increased that pay by three percent, which is around an $800 dollar increase.

Leaders say this is done in hopes of luring more firemen and officers, and keeping the ones they have.

However, is that enough to stop the turnover? "That's one of our goals in this is to stop the revolving door, to get some retention with the ranks," says Ozark Police Chief, Tony Spivey.

However, firemen and policemen are not the only ones expected to get a pay increase.

In fact, all city employees will get at least one percent, and all qualified city employees also received an additional three percent step increase.

"For us to compete, we had to do something immediately about our young police officers that we were loosing to the surrounding community and also particularly, to become state troopers" says Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting.

"I feel wonderful about it, excited about it definitely. It's a definite step in the right direction in retaining officers for Ozark," said Ozark Police Officer Zeneth Glenn.

The entry level positions are also now set to receive some raises, faster.

Workers will increase their pay by nine percent in their first year.

However, city leaders say that's still not what the firemen and police officers deserve. With family insurance reaching nearly $600 dollars a month for some, it can still become a struggle to keep experienced officers.

The starting pay increase will also apply to all employees still in entry level positions.