BENTONVILLE -- The Benton County Quorum Court will consider a midyear pay raise for workers at its countywide dispatch center, in part to forestall more turnover after the stress on the center with the recent death of a Pea Ridge police officer in the line of duty.
Officer Kevin Apple was killed June 26. An arrest for capital murder was made against the woman charged with running over him with her vehicle.
The dispatch center already suffered from high turnover before Apple's death, Quorum Court members were told at a county finance committee meeting that began at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The center handles more communications but pays less than smaller city centers in the region, justices of the peace were told.
County Judge Barry Moehring's proposal would raise the base pay of a starting level dispatcher from $16.30 an hour to $19, with the rest of the pay scale increasing in proportion. There would be no budget increase; because the center has had so many vacancies, the money saved on pay so far this year means the increase will fit in the already-approved yearly budget.
About a third of the center's 36 or so positions are already vacant, the committee was told. The center successfully handled the crisis that ensued from the killing of Apple but the strain was considerable, county public safety supervisor Robert T. McGowen told the court.
The committee unanimously recommended forwarding Moehring's proposal to the full Quorum Court for consideration on July 22.
Justice of the Peace Brian Armas expressed his thanks to the dispatchers to McGowen during the committee's discussion on behalf of all Pea Ridge residents.
In other business, the committee discussed tentative dates and times for public meetings on how to spend federal covid assistance. A proposed schedule will be posted on the county's website, committee members said Tuesday night.