Starting salary for the Crowley City Fire Department is among the lowest in the state. The station is seeking an increase in base pay in hopes of improving retention.
Fire Chief Jody Viator says the starting firefighter salary is roughly twenty two thousand a year and ranks thirty second compared to similar sized Louisiana fire departments. He says nine firefighters have left in the past five years because of the pay. “It’s hard for them to stay. I talked to one yesterday and he told me he would come back if the pay would go back up that’s how much he liked his job here. He wants to be a firefighter he just can’t afford to be a firefighter and he’s a hometown guy who lives in Crowley.”
He says many of his firefighters have to take on part-time jobs. “It’s hard to keep working, working, working seven days a week to make a living.”
Crowley City Council member and Finance Committee Chairman Elliot Dore says the city’s sales tax revenue is limited and recent oil field layoffs have created more restrictions. “We have a lot of folks that live in and around Crowley that work in the oilfield and when you have layoffs of course less is spent out and around the city eating out or maybe buying a little extra.”
The fire and police departments are largely funded by a half cent sales tax. Dore says a further increase is unlikely but the option of reviewing property millages is on the table. “Trying to pass an additional five or ten millages dedicated to police and fire would certainly give us some more funds.”
The Crowley Finance Committee will hold a special meeting next week to discuss firefighter and police officer pay and will present their findings to City Council at a May 6th meeting.