COBB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It took months of pressure and packing county commission meetings, but the future is looking better for Cobb County Public Safety employees. Tuesday night, commissioners agreed to give them a bonus.
The bonus, which will be given out in August, is $1,475. It's a one-time bonus, but brings with it promise to eventually raise public safety compensation.
"This is the very first step in a multiple step approach," said Commission Chairman Mike Boyce.
"People look at it and go 'It's not a lot of money' but it's something, something to just hang in there," said Steve Gaynor, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Cobb.
For months, public safety employees and supporters packed the commission meetings, calling for better pay and benefits for police, fire, EMS, and deputies. Employees said they're understaffed and underpaid, leading to stress, fatigue, and low morale. They also said employees were leaving at an alarming rate to go to other jurisdictions where the pay is better.
"It's really hazardous to our firefighters and to our citizens," said John Brady, the president of the International Association of Firefighters in Cobb County.
Firefighters said the bonus is good, but they want a step in grade pay plan that will last long term.
"As with any bonus it's one-time money, we are looking for recurring money," said Brady.
Commissioners said they have a lot to consider before the next budget is passed. Firefighters and police are cautiously optimistic.
"If you're patient, give us another 30 days, you'll see we're making necessary steps. In July when we vote on the millage rate and the budget, we'll have something we can be proud of," said Boyce.
Also at Tuesday night's meeting, commissioners approved Deputy Chief Tim Cox as the new Police Chief. He's been with the department for 30 years. He replaces Mike Register who took over as Cobb County Public Safety Director.