Restructuring fire department an option for increasing firefighter's pay in Marianna

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For the city of Marianna, Hurricane Michael caused more than structural damage.

One fire station in Marianna is being considered to close in order to pay firefighters more. (WJHG/WECP)

"We're struggling just to cash flow after the hurricane, and pay for the costs that we're incurring," said City Manager Jim Dean.

As they continue to recover from the storm, Dean said, difficult budget decisions need to be made in order to pay firefighters more.

Talk of closing one particular fire station has surfaced.

The city manager said Hurricane Michael caused a strain on Marianna's budget, but firefighters say shutting down this fire station is not the answer.

"The union stands against that, we want to keep as many jobs as possible, keep our staffing up, and the citizens deserve protection on the west side just as much as they deserve protection on the east side," said President of the Marianna Professional Fire Fighters.

Dean said to cover the costs, the millage rate would have to increase by one-point-five mils.

"Of course that's not the only option, there are other options, and we could just keep doing what we're doing and have the salaries where they are. The other option would be we could increase the ad valorem taxes that our citizens pay," said Dean.

Dean said the station in the discussion was part of a contract with Family Dollar, but that contract expired in 2015.

"The only reason the station is there is because of Family Dollar, and the fact that it was a requirement of the contract, and now the contract is no longer in place."

But O'Bryan said, this station is important and should stay in the community.

"We understand that there is a wage issue here in Marianna, but closing a fire station is not a way to fix that," O'Bryan said.

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