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Working more than 9 to 5

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Aug. 15, 2001
No sooner does one work day end than another begins for many Meridian policemen and firefighters, who work two or three extra jobs to supplement their city income.
With complaints of low pay, long hours and a manpower shortage, many firefighters and policemen take on extra jobs as security officers, carpenters and plumbers. Others work cleaning and installing carpets or remodeling homes.
Things may not get much better.
Mayor John Robert Smith's proposed budget for the 2002 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 carries no pay raises for city employees including police and firefighters. The proposal also would leave 21 jobs unfunded, including seven firefighters and two police detectives.
At the same time, the budget would continue to fund pay raises that took effect July 1 for the mayor and the city council. The mayor's pay jumped from $60,000 to $75,000; the council's pay jumped from $14,000 to $18,000; and the council president's pay went from $16,500 to $20,000.
City councilmen are expected to discuss the budget proposal crafted with little input from department heads, including DuBose at a meeting Thursday. They have until Oct. 1 to review, revamp and adopt a final city budget.
Danny Ivy, a captain with the Meridian Fire Department and president of the Firefighters Local 52 union, said almost all firefighters work part-time jobs to supplement their income.
Ivy, who works part time as a carpenter, said a second job can sometimes be the difference between a firefighter staying here or leaving for a higher-paying primary job.
Although some firefighters feel they need the jobs, Ivy said, some of them do the work for extra spending money.
DuBose said most of his officers work extra jobs as security personnel for local hospitals and businesses.
Despite an abundance of part-time work for policemen, DuBose said his department can't keep officers because they often leave for better paying jobs in law enforcement.
With the police department missing as many as 15 officers at one time, he said the situation has caused his remaining officers to take safety precautions.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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