York County increases wages for 911 dispatchers by $2.50 an hour

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
An employee talks with a co-worker at the York County 911 Center Monday, July 31, 2017. County spokesman Mark Walters and lead training supervisor Roxie Tate talked with the media Monday, Feb. 26 regarding recent problems with the center's paging system. Bill Kalina photo

The York County Board of Commissioners has approved a wage increase for 911 dispatchers as the county tries to fill empty positions at the 911 center.

Effective Aug. 1, the starting wage for 911 dispatchers in York County will be $17.04 an hour. That's an increase of $2.50 from the previous wage of $14.54. The increase was approved at Wednesday's salary board meeting.

Under a 40-hour work week, $17.04 would translate to about $35,360 a year. The increase is the first since 2017.

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The pay increase comes as York County attempts to fill positions at the center. The center is budgeted for 78 employees but has 49 total employees: 35 full-time, seven part-time and seven trainees. 

It's about time, Commissioner Ron Smith said Monday.

"It's long overdue, and we should've gotten this done years ago," Smith said.

York County is in negotiations with the American Federation of County State and Municipal Employees, which represents 911 dispatchers at the center.

The pay increase will help the center be competitive in the current marketplace, Smith said. 

With the pay increase, York County ranks second among surrounding Pennsylvania counties. Adams County pays $14.50 an hour with a $1 increase upon the completion of training. Dauphin County pays $16.55 an hour, Cumberland County pays $15.60 an hour, and Lancaster County pays $17.05 an hour.

In addition to Pennsylvania, York County must also compete with counties in Maryland, Smith noted. Cambria County starts at $17.98, he said.

Commissioners Doug Hoke and Julie Wheeler declined to comment Monday, highlighting the negotiations with AFSCME. 

The pay increase is a step in the right direction, but there's much more to be done, according to AFSCME local president Steve Mullen.

"Pay alone will not fix the problems at the 911 center," Mullen said Monday.

The main problems at the center, Mullen said, are recruiting and retaining talent. While he appreciates what the commissioners voted to do, the pay increase will help but not solve the ongoing problems at the center.

Among the problems he cited were difficulty in obtaining leave and the amount of mandatory overtime.