Fire, police personnel get pay raises
The South Lake Tahoe City Council approved pay hikes for police and fire personnel Tuesday after more than a year of negotiations.
“I think it was a difficult but fair process, and I’m glad its over with,” said Police and Fire Chief Brad Bennett. “I applaud everyone who was involved in the process from the city side and bargaining unit side to reach this contract.”
The three-year agreements are retroactive to Sept. 30, when the last contracts expired. They cover five bargaining units representing police officers, police supervisors, police commanders, fire management and firefighters.
The contracts include a 10.5 percent pay increase, spread over three years, and an increase in retirement benefits. Employees will pay a bigger share of their health care costs.
The shift in benefits moves the city more in line with agencies of similar size such as the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department and Lake Valley Fire Department, City Manager David Childs said.
“It keeps us competitive,” he said.
Bennett said the compensation is fair compared to other agencies around the lake, but he would like to see increases in the future to help recruitment efforts.
Russ Dow, president of the Firemen’s Association, said both sides worked hard in the negotiations.
“I think it is fair on both sides,” he said.
Childs said the reduction in benefits will help the city build up $5 million to $6 million in reserves for the retirement medical program, which has an estimated liability of between $11 million and $13 million. The city will also stop offering retirement medical benefits for dependents to new hires.
The retirement plan was a major source of debate during negotiations. The plan is modeled on the California Personnel Employee Retirement System, or CalPERS, which determines benefits based on salary, retirement age and years of service.
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