Emergency exit blocked

January 3, 2014 

A bad economy and tight finances can be a mixed blessing when it comes to teaching frugality, especially to our elected leaders. We think the recent contract with St. Clair County's emergency dispatchers is an example.

The dispatchers' union and the county spent two years hashing through a contract. In the end what did dispatchers get? Exactly what everyone else in the county got as far as pay raises, but they had to wait two years for their extra money.

County leaders deserve credit for getting the taxpayers something more than a cost savings during the negotiations. They created a disincentive for dispatchers to use the county to get trained and then go off to better-paying jobs.

Dispatchers now must repay a prorated portion of their training costs if they leave within three years. If they leave within the first year, they now must weigh a bill for 75 percent of their training against the $10,000 boost in pay they might receive with a local police department.

Keeping the experience in house is good for public safety. And while we're not talking about the millions lost when military pilots leave to work for private companies, keeping dispatchers from job hopping is good for public finances.

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