UPDATE: Firefighters are getting a ninety cent pay raise as a result of Tuesday’s city council meeting in Oeplousas.
OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) — Tonight’s Opelousas city council meeting could result in a ninety cent pay increase for fire fighters in Opelousas, an increase that can save the department from losing even more personnel.
Richard Joseph, Interim Fire Chief, said, “It’s been weighing on our department, we had two guys that resigned last month. Hopefully this can be an increase that we desperately needed.”
Daniel Saucier, Opelousas Fire Lieutenant, said, “We want to make sure that they take into consideration everything that we’ve talked about, we just lost a third person who left the department for money reasons. They need to understand that we’re losing people, we’re not able to rehire people, and they need to be able to do something.”
The nintey cent pay increase would bring firefighters from $9.50 an hour to $10.40 an hour.
Chief Joseph said the increase can help retain some personnel but still doesn’t make the Opelousas Fire Department competitive enough.
“A step in the right direction, but it’s still not making us competitive within St. Landry Parish and Lafayette Parish,” Joseph said.
“The next department that we’re looking at that’s ahead of us is at $11 an hour to start and we’re still underneath them,” Saucier said. “So you’re still going to lose people to other departments and you’re still going to have people that may go elsewhere for higher wages. We’re still not competitive enough yet.”
If the council approves the wage increase at tonight’s meeting, Joseph and Saucier sid the push has to continue into next year.
“Hopefully we get these ninety cents tonight and in the next couple of months when the budget committees start to meet for the next fiscal year, we’ll be back at them again,” Joseph said.
“A fair competitive wage to be competitive with not only the parish but other cities, you’re looking to need a $2.50 to $3 raise to get up to about $12 an hour to star,” Saucier said. “Then we need to make sure this problem doesn’t occur later down the line.”