Carteret County - In 2013 Carteret County officials say they saw a nearly fifty percent attrition rate among 911 operators. Now county leaders are hopeful this year's budget will include money to fix that problem.
County staff have requested $57,000 in this year's county budget for overtime pay.
"We hope that that will help keep some of those that may be leaving for salary purposes," said County Manager, Russell Overman.
Currently, operators are compensated for overtime with time off. According to Carteret County Human Resources, 911 operators are leaving the job for a number of reasons. Among them are stress, long hours, rigorous training, even military spouses coming and going but the number one reason is pay.
"It's really disheartening to hear that they come in and see what's going on and then they wonder to themselves is this worth it for the money I'm getting?" said John Smith, a former Carteret County Communications Center supervisor.
Smith says 911 operators are the first, first responders and genuine heroes.
"They don't get the recognition they deserve for the job that they do," said Smith.
Average pay for a 911 communicator in Carteret County is $26,500 a year. Some of those who left the job decided they could make more money waiting tables which Overman says is frustrating and he wants to change that. Overman says the county has no control over the stress of the job or the rigorous training required to do it but they do have control over pay.
"We're trying to fix what we can control," said Overman.
Overman says commissioners have been receptive and he's hopeful the measure will be adopted in the budget for the coming fiscal year. 911 communicators would see an increase of about $2,200 a year covering scheduled overtime pay effective July 1st. County Commissioners have not yet approved a budget but have until June 30th to do so as required by state law.