Firefighters lose 3 percent raise with other city employees

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 06:15 PM.

While special magistrate Martin O. Holland considered the matter, firefighters received their contracted raise when the new budget year began Oct. 1, 2012.

"The impasse before the Special Magistrate is the result of the serious economic downturn and its impact on the city's budget, according to both parties, and not a lack of willingness of the parties to make significant attempts to solve the problem causing the impact," Holland's proceedings report of Jan. 30 stated.

The report made particular note of the efforts of the city and union's efforts to resolve the matter amicably, noting the long-standing friendly relationship between the two parties.

Ultimately, however, the city's position prevailed.

"In order to provide the wage increases, the city would be required to take additional cost-saving measures in other areas, including layoffs, position eliminations and furlough days, seriously impacting the service to the public," Holland's report stated. "The union did not effectively refute the testimonies."

After reviewing testimony from union and city attorneys, union President Jody Smallwood and Fire Chief Joe Traylor, City Clerk Betsy Roy and Beebe, Holland wrote, "I recommend adoption of the city's position to treat the union members equally as all other employees during the current (fiscal year) financial crisis. Therefore, I recommend not granting the scheduled 3 percent wage increase."

Councilwoman Robyn Helt — moving to accept the magistrate's recommendation — said, "the magistrate noted the city followed all the appropriate protocols and it was accepted amicably by both sides."

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