Sep. 14—The Aiken City Council on Monday night approved an amendment to the city budget, locking in a raise for all Department of Public Safety sworn officers and dispatchers.
The 7% bump, effective in October, is made possible by a multimillion-dollar surplus and is meant to keep pay competitive with neighboring departments and other outfits.
Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco on Monday said he was pleased with the raise. Last year, he said City Council had his team's back — something that "makes Aiken, Aiken."
The pay increase was prompted by "Aiken County giving all sheriff deputies an immediate 15% increase effective the first payroll after July 20," according to a memo prepared for City Council members.
City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh on Monday said the city was being proactive.
"As you know, we invest a lot of money into hiring officers and training officers," Bedenbaugh said. "And council has directed us to try to provide Public Safety with what they need to have a full-functioning, appropriately staffed department."
Public Safety, a combination police-and-fire department, has a fair share of staffing competition: the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, departments across the river in Georgia and the private paramilitary security contractor at the Savannah River Site, to name a few.
The budget amendment passed unanimously Monday. City Council member Kay Biermann Brohl was absent. The measure was preliminarily approved in late August.