New Berlin offers financial incentives to 911 dispatchers
Move would help during transition if employees stay on
New Berlin - Keeping critical emergency 911 dispatchers on the job when they know they won't be working for New Berlin this time next year is as tricky as handling five 911 calls all at once.
Last month, New Berlin decided to have all 911 emergency calls answered by dispatchers at the Waukesha County Communications Center and are closing New Berlin's dispatch center. But city officials want enough New Berlin dispatchers to stay on the job during the transition to WCC to provide adequate 911 service. The transition has already begun and will probably be completed in February.
The answer the Common Council came up with is financial incentives for dispatchers to stay on and making it easier to retire at the end of the transition. Each solution would fit different groups.
For the four dispatchers who cannot retire, the city is offering half a week's pay for each year they have been with the city. But they'll get it only if they stay on until they aren't needed anymore. That could be this December or it could be next February.
The severance packages range from $4,700 to $13,000 depending on seniority, said Tami Potkay, human resources director.
Police Chief Joe Reider said the package is fair, but whether it will be enough, especially at the low end, to keep dispatchers from grabbing another job when it's available is anyone's guess.
Alderman Dave Ament said, "I think it's being fair to them and fair to the taxpayers and to anyone calling 911."
Dispatchers can still take sick leave, vacations and compensation time, Reider said.
The severance package will cost $24,604.
Even though the city has laid off many workers in the past, it has no formal severance package policy, Potkay said. Employees might receive a month's pay or be paid until the end of the year if that is close because it is difficult to look for a job during the holidays.
To help its five veteran dispatchers retire, the city is offering to pay for single policy health insurance until they are 65 or eligible for Medicare, whichever comes first. But again, dispatchers must stay on until they are not needed, under the phase in.
To qualify, the employees must be at least 55 years old and have at least 15 years of service to the city. Those parameters came from the Wisconsin Retirement Service.
The estimated package cost is $51,836.
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