Friday, April 5 2013, 09:43 PM CDT
City says emergency protection is worth the money
By Caitlin Conrad/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore -- The City of Medford is setting aside a big chunk of money in its budget.
The City Council is taking $145,000 out of it's next budget to hire and an Emergency Manager, a new position for the city.
The Rogue Valley has a lot of teams who work to get the community prepared, CERT Coordinators, firefighters, and County emergency management but City Manager Eric Swanson says it's important for the city to have it's own point person in the event of a disaster.
"We're looking at probably the first 72 hours after an event like this where the community is gonna have to be self sufficient," he said.
While the position will cost the city $145,000 dollars a year, only $60,000 to $67,000 thousand will go towards salary, Swanson said.
The rest will pay for benefits. Nationally the salary just about on target.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean salary for a city emergency manager is $64,000, the lowest average being $30,000 and the pay topping out at $110,000.
Swanson says Medford came up with it's pay scale based on regional salaries.
"We've established a range that's consistent with what other communities pay for this type of position," he said.
However, in some Oregon areas the pay differs. Portland sets aside about $130,000 for the director's salary and benefits. The city of Bend is closest in population to Medford and it uses the county's emergency management services, and their manager earns a $93,000 salary.
The city is hoping to eventually pay for the position with grant funds but won't be able to apply for any until they get a manager. Until then the money will come out of the city's general fund.
The price for a city emergency manager is expensive but Swanson says they will pay for themselves eventually not only in providing for the community in the initials hours but also fighting for funds in the long term.
"It's important that you have some one in place that's preparing for these but also is around for afterwards," he said.
Swanson says it will be vital for the local economy to have someone getting the town back in action quick.
The city is casting a wide net and searching nationwide for someone with the right skill sets and disaster experience. He says this person will be in charge of making sure every city department is ready to go in an emergency.
He says the city does have a plan but departments haven't been coordinating together.
"We kind of have an idea of what the plan is but we don't do enough in terms of practicing," Swanson said. He's hoping the emergency manager will get police, fire and public works out doing training together for emergencies as well as coordinating with the county.