Firefighters in the City of Belton are taking to social media to express their concerns about their current salary, retirement benefits and retention in the department.
The City of Belton has eight firefighters working per shift and according to the Belton Professional Firefighters Association, the department is two people away from losing an entire shift of people.
"Any time this happens, there is a lot of that is coming in and we are losing guys that the city is investing money in and time on to other cities around us," Belton Professional Firefighters President David Holloway said.
The Belton Fire Department has two fire stations within the city limits, when the department is fully staffed, they sit at 30 firemen. In the last few months they lost six guys, knocking them down to 24.
"Losing a whole shift of personnel, there are a couple options for the city. It would be the 48, 24's or it would be shutting a piece of equipment down," Holloway said.
And being understaffed is something Holloway said is only part of the problem.
"Our salaries as far as how they compare to the cities around us and who we have lost people to and our retirement being substandard to everyone around us," Holloway said.
In October, Belton ended a long-standing agreement with Bell County in which they provided EMS services for the county. The loss of that contract takes away $500,000 from the departments budget.
As of the fiscal year 2019, the City of Belton increased the fire departments budget by $35,000 bringing the total for fiscal year 2019 to roughly $3.1 million. According to the 2019 Fiscal year budget, roughly $2.4 million goes toward salaries.
The city released this statement regarding the situation:
"Salary, benefits and personnel concerns are part of our annual budget process, which begins in the spring. At that time these issues will be addressed on the management level not on social media. The safety of personnel and responsiveness to the public remain top priorities."
Which is why the association met with Belton City Manager Sam Listi.
"We met with the department head, the fire chief and Mr. Listi and there wasn't a lot of feedback given," Holloway said.
On Friday, the city is bringing in 25 candidates that will go through a series of testing.
The city said they hope to have the vacancies filled by the end of the year.
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