In a move designed to attract more dispatchers to the city's critically understaffed Communications Department, the City Council voted Monday to raise the base pay for dispatchers 10%, from $13,390 to $14,800 a year.
Although cost-of-living pay raises for other employees have been delayed because of the city's growing budget deficit, an unusually high vacancy rate among dispatchers made passage of the emergency measure necessary, Councilwoman Donna Smith said. Until recently, the vacancy rate was 42%, and despite recent hires, five of 31 positions in the department remain unfilled, communications supervisor Raylene Scott said. The attrition is high because the city can afford to hire only those with minimal experience, Scott said, adding that as soon as they get experience, workers frequently leave Pomona when offered higher paying jobs in other cities.
A comparison with 16 Southern California cities of similar size showed that Pomona wages are about 10% below the average, suggesting a probable cause of the dispatcher shortage, said Bridget Distelrath, assistant to City Administrator Ora Lampman.