Police and fire department employees in Rome will see raises in their first pay check after Aug. 1. The City Commission approved a new play plan Monday night.

The pay plan will add $238,647 to the police department budget for the remaining five months of the year and $407,966 to the fire department budget.

“The time is now,” said City Manager Sammy Rich.

New city police officers who are hired in without certification will start at $38,000. A new officer who is certified but has no experience will start at $39,000 and newly certified officers with at least one year’s experience will be paid $40,000.

The Rome Police Department has 96 sworn positions with 14 vacancies while the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department has 158 sworn positions and is short four firefighters.

Rich said there would be salary adjustments throughout the pay scales as part of the new pay plan.

“This is one investment we cannot afford not to make,” said Commissioner Craig McDaniel.

“Now we can not only retain the veterans officers that we have, it will encourage them to go out and recruit good quality candidates that we can add to the force,” said Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett.

Fire Chief Troy Brock said the increase for firefighters will amount to approximately $6,000 across the board.

“This is going to help us develop the career firefighters,” he said.

Rich said the raise isn’t going to solve all the issues, bit it’s an important piece of the equation.

“I think it’s also an important morale boost when it’s a really tough time to be in public safety,” he said. “Word of mouth is a very good recruitment tool, so if you’ve got folks that are happy in the organization they’re much more like to be able to help recruitment like minded folks.”

Commissioners also approved the 2020 tax levy with no change from last year. The city maintenance and operation rate is set at 8.151 mills, plus 1.935 mills for capital improvements. Those levies are expected to raise about $11.4 million.

The tax rate for the city schools is 17.450 mills, which should raise approximately $19.2 million.

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