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Public safety budget push
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Rockdale County government and public safety agencies are among the departments gearing up for a big push for salary increases and additional personnel for 2014.

However, proposed budget summaries released by Commission Chairman's office on Friday reflected about $1.3 million less in salary requests for the RCSO than what the RCSO submitted.

Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett began laying the groundwork earlier this year for salary increases and incentives. A study by the RCSO released in August outlined the desired increases in base pay, increases to adjust for compression, and incentives, which could cost more than $1.5 million to implement.

The increases would move the RCSO from 51st among 57 surveyed law enforcement agencies in the metro Atlanta area to 38th for starting salaries of deputies. The changes would also create more rungs for advancement, adjust for compression effects by giving a 1 percent compensation per year of employement, up to 10 percent, for tenured employees, and give more incentives for additional training or education.

RCSO Chief Deputy Scott Freeman said the RCSO had submitted the full $1.5 million increase request and said this was the first time he had seen the proposed budget summaries that were released to the public.

The RCSO was still requesting everything outlined in the study, he said. "We are still moving forward with the requests for the full amount," said Freeman.

Commissioner Oz Nesbitt publically stated earlier in the week his support for additional funding for public safety agencies.

Rockdale Fire and Rescue is also putting in a request for additional personnel with an estimated cost of about $252,614. That amount is for one Deputy Fire Chief and three Battalion Chiefs.

Regarding the Battalion Chiefs, the additional personnel would allow for safer control on emergency scenes during daily activities, according to background justification given with the requests. Currently, there is one Battalion Chief for the entire county per shift.

The Deputy Fire Chief was a position that existed in the RCFR until 2010 and would cover the administrative functions of RCFR.

The Board of Commissioners will be holding budget hearings on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the JP Carr Center, 981 Taylor Street. The all-day meeting is open to the public.

The presentations start at 8:30 a.m. with the RCSO. The RCFR division will have its budget presentation at 11:10 a.m. - noon, followed by Recreation and Maintenance at noon - 1 p.m., Transportation at 1:15 p.m. - 2 p.m., Planning and Development at 2 p.m. - 3 p.m., and Rockdale Water Resources at 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.