Edmonds deal gives $1.6 million in back pay to firefighters

EDMONDS — The city and Fire District 1 have reached an agreement on a bill for retroactive pay for firefighters, which calls for the city to pay $1.6 million.

Edmonds, Brier and Mountlake Terrace contract with the fire district to provide fire and paramedic services. The cities received bills in August for back pay to settle retroactive pay issues at the fire district totaling $2.5 million.

Mountlake Terrace and Brier earlier reached agreements with the fire district. Mountlake Terrace initially was charged $661,318. After months of talks, $40,300 was taken off the bill, which will be paid off over two years. Brier initially was charged $256,240 and has paid $245,325 with nearly $11,000 taken off its bill.

The fire district agreed to reduce Edmonds’ bill by $63,631. The city’s $1.6 million bill will be paid of in eight quarterly payments, said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling.

“We understood we had a bill to pay,” Earling said. “I want to emphasize we have no quarrel over the quality of services we’ve been getting from the fire district. It’s been high quality.”

Earling said the city will continue to talk to the fire district about the length of time the city would be responsible for retroactive pay. “That’s not to say they weren’t justified, but we need a better idea of the range, at least, as we’re preparing our yearly budgets,” Earling said.

Jim Kenney, chairman of the fire district’s board of commissioners, said district representatives plan to meet with Edmonds officials to negotiate with them on how back-pay issues will be handed in the future. Edmonds is five years into a 20-year contract with the district to provide fire services in the city. “It’s certainly appropriate to make sure it’s working for both sides,” Kenney said.

The wage issue for the fire district’s 192 employees, including firefighters, paramedics, captains and battalion chiefs, goes back to 2012, when a contract was expiring.

Union employees were to get a 3.7 percent pay increase. But with layoffs looming, employees decided to decline the pay raise after one month to avoid layoffs.

The union contract for 2013-14 was settled last year and included retroactive raises of 4.51 percent for 2013 and 1.2 percent for 2014.

Sharon Salyer: 435-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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