Mocksville to add 6 firefighters; 6 more possible by end of year

Published 9:40 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Mocksville employees will be getting pay raises, and the town could hire as many as 12 full-time firefighters by the end of the year, a result of a 2022-2023 budget adopted by the town board last week.

The budget includes money for six of those firefighters, and the town has applied for a $1.2 million grant that would pay for an additional six firefighters for three years, with a requirement that those six, too, would remain on the town’s payroll after those first three years.

Board member Justin Draughn questioned whether the town was capable of paying for 12 firefighters, and suggested the board wait to see if the grant is received before deciding to go with six new, or 12 new firefighters. Deciding now could mean the town could end up forfeiting the grant.

Town Manager Ken Gamble said he is confident that the town – with expected tax-base growth – will be able to pay for the 12 firefighters in four years. Six are already in the budget, he said, explaining that there are times when no firefighters – volunteer or paid – are at the fire station.

“They’re desperately needed now,” said board member, Johnny Frye.

The board voted unanimously for the budget and to hire the six firefighters. They will decide on whether to accept the grant after it is offered.

Board members approved a pay study that is being implemented in this budget, that will increase pay for many employees, especially those on the lower level. It brings the town to slightly above the area average for those jobs, said Matt Reece of the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments, which conducted a pay study for the town.

He explained that in the last 18 months, the job market has been inverted, with more jobs than potential employees. It was somewhat expected, he said, as more and more baby boomers begin to retire. “We call it the Silver Sunami – grey hairs exiting the work force.”

Mocksville is in a competitive job market, and the pandemic made it even more competitive, he said. “This is a good year to slightly lead the market.”

No job will pay lower than $15.22 per hour, and pay grade levels will be raised to get slightly above average for the area. “We’re trying to get you more competitive.”

The study adds about $86,308 in pay grade increases to the budget, which also includes a 5 percent cost of living adjustment for all employees, totaling $54,024.

The town will partner with the county and Bermuda Run to pay for a full-time code enforcement officer, who will primarily work in Mocksville.

Other budget highlights:

• new fee schedules for Rich Park amenities;

• .29 cent tax rate and a $15 vehicle tax;

• a new roof and paver upgrades at town hall;

• fire department equipment;

• wayfinding signs;

“Much higher construction costs, labor shortages and supply chain issues continue to increase our costs for delivering programs and services to the community,” Gamble said in his budget message. “Staff will closely monitor inflation and note any significant trends in sales and use tax since this revenue is the most sensitive to economic downturns.

“There is much to be hopeful for. This includes nearly 600 housing units planned in Mocksville over the next several years, a robust spec building program with more than 1 million square feet of additional industrial space in the works, a full employment rate and industries committed to investing nearly $100 million in Mocksville during 2021.”

He said taxpayers should be proud the town board is fiscally responsible.

“Town staff will continue to pursue grant opportunities, seek beneficial partnerships for service delivery, streamline operations and provide technical guidance to facilitate wise capital investments,” Gamble said. “This commitment to fiscal excellence and community investment makes the Town of Mocksville a great place to live, work and raise a family.”