At this evening’s meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners the commissioners will take up a proposal to use just over $20.6 million of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to deal with the ongoing crisis in recruiting and retaining public safety personnel.
The issue is not unique to Cobb County, as police, fire and sheriff’s departments across the metro area and state are experiencing similar inability to maintain full staffing. Read more about this issue at the local level here, and at the state level in an AJC article published last year here.
The following is a list of staff shortages from the county’s website:
- Cobb Police (Current authorized positions = 634) 83 vacancies
- Cobb Fire (Current authorized positions = 752) 81 vacancies
- Cobb E911 (Current authorized positions = 150) 36 vacancies
- Sheriff’s Office (Current authorized sworn positions = 538) 60 vacancies
The agenda item for this evening’s BOC meeting reads as follows:
“To approve an appropriation of funds received pursuant to the American Rescue Plan
Act of 2021 (ARPA), in the amount of $20,642,172.11, from identified public safety and
contingency allocations to assist with recruitment and retention of certified/sworn
employees within Cobb County Public Safety and Sheriffs Office.”
In a news release on the County’s website the reason for the proposal is described as follows:
“With more than 250 vacancies across its public safety agencies, Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners will consider using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to attract qualified employees and retain the ones they have.
“The plan would use more than $20 million of Cobb’s ARPA allocation to adjust salaries, implement recruitment and retention incentives, and raise the entry-level pay for the police and fire departments, E911, and the Sheriff’s Office.
“The entry-level pay would increase from $46,000 to just over $50,000 for police, fire, and deputies. The entry-level pay for E911 dispatchers would go from $41,500 to just over $43,000.“
“Although the Board of Commissioners has supported our efforts to boost pay and attract quality candidates in the past year, it remains a difficult environment to find people who want to take on these challenging jobs,” said Cobb County Public Safety Director Randy Crider in the county’s news release. “We compete with public safety agencies nationwide for a smaller pool of candidates.”