MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — Some Jackson County Fire Rescue employees woke up with substantially bigger paychecks Wednesday morning.

Jackson County commissioners were notified by the state a couple of weeks ago that Jackson County Fire Rescue direct care employees must be paid $15/hr by October 1.

With such short notice, commissioners weren’t able to account for this money in next year’s budget, which was adopted Tuesday night.

“It has a fairly significant impact on our budget and the cost of providing those services to the citizens of Jackson County,” Commissioner Paul Donofro said. “We are looking at close to about a half a million dollars in overall annual impact.”

Donofro said the county has enough American Rescue Plan funding to pay for the increase in this next budget year.

Beyond that, commissioners are working with Jackson County Fire Rescue to find more revenue. That could mean an increase in ambulance charges.

“Ambulance charges are broken down by pickup charge plus a mileage rate and so the county and, we are going to put together some proposals and some projected numbers, some what-if scenarios about raising the pick-up charge and the mileage,” Jackson County Fire Rescue Chief Charlie Brunner.

Brunner said despite the short notice, the wage increase is a positive. He said some firefighters were making less than $12/hr.

“It’s vital that we stay competitive with our pay because we have to keep these positions filled and we have to keep answering the number of calls that we are receiving,” Brunner said. “It’s vital that we have these first responders here, healthy, and able to work because they still have to provide for their own families.”

If the county increases ambulance fees, it would not go into effect until the 2023-24 budget.