Raises abound at Keizer Fire District

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By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes

Non-represented staff at Keizer Fire District will receive 2 percent raises in fiscal year 2010-11, a unanimous board of directors decided at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

The pay increase is retroactive to July 1.

Non-represented staff will also receive 2 percent raises in 2011-12 and another 2 percent in 2012-13.

These raises are consistent with what union represented employees received earlier this year following contract negotiations with the board.

According to Fire Chief Jeff Cowan, it’s the practice of the district to have benefits offered to represented and non-represented employees mirror each other.

Union employees also received a more generous benefits package, specifically as it relates to the monthly accumulation of sick leave and vacation. But non-represented employees will have to wait at least a month before they receive similar benefits after Director Greg Frank requested more time to review the policy changes proposed by Cowan.

A survey of similar-sized districts from throughout the state showed district staff were underpaid by about 10 percent.

In other news:

• Deputy Chief Randy Jackson estimated the district will receive half of its ambulance service billings for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Jackson said while $2 million was billed, an estimated $1.1 will be written off as bad debts.

Medicare and the Oregon Health Plan pay set fees that average about half what the district charges for ambulance services.

Jackson added it’s against the law for the district to charge patients covered by these health plans for the difference.

“It’s mandated that 50 percent of what we charge is not collectable,” said Jackson of the two government health plans..

The board directed Cowan to look into whether or not an ambulance service rate increase is warranted.

One possibility that could bear further study by the board is annual rate increases based on some economic indicator, such as a cost of living adjustment.

The district last raised ambulance service rates a year ago.

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5 Responses for “Raises abound at Keizer Fire District”

  1. Evan says:

    RAISES! I remember the District sold us an operating levy not too long ago. The sale pitch was WE NEED MORE MONEY TO CONTINUE BASIC SERVICES. No one ever mentioned salary increases. What a crock. Never again will I support an operation levy for these selfish people. Shame on the Board. Not one NO vote!!

  2. Concerned says:

    Operations levy would have support the fire fighting in the community and so that we can retain the currenty firefighters they have. Do we really want to loss the most expirenced and train new folks all the time. The survey even showed that the good people at Keizer are underpaid by 10%. I support Keizer Fire District!

  3. Brian says:

    The levy was to continue basic services, real basic. The firefighters were behind by 10%, in order to recruit AND retain employees they need to have a benefits package that is comparable to other departments, otherwise it is not only a revolving door, but an attraction to \less qualified\ firefighter/paramedics. The top notch ones will go work for other departments. Do not forget the Union firefighters gave up 2.7% a couple years ago in order to increase the hours of their second medic unit from 40 hrs/ wk to 84. They also decreased their Health Insurance Plan this year which resulted in a 0% increase in Health Care costs. It’s easy to take one item out from an article (Raises Abound) and think the worse, but the Keizer Fire District Board of Directors really watch out for the public best interest.

  4. Evan says:

    You have to pay top dollar to attract and retain top notch employees? Sounds like the same argument the teachers use. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the firefighters. I just think it’s a terrible time to increase salaries. I don’t buy the argument employees will flee if salaries are not top notch. There are other aspects of a workplace that satisfy employees too. Does Keizer Fire have a recruitment or retention problem? After all it is argued they are under payed 10%. Just wondering if Brian or Concerned are on the Fire Board or are employed by the district.

  5. Brian says:

    I am employed by the District. We have averaged losing 2 employees a year since I began working there. We have 18 “line” personnel. So we have to often hire and train employees just to watch them go to other departments. It’s also not “top” dollar. It is an average of our comparable departments, like McMinnville, Albany, Canby, etc. It is also 10% over three years, we do not get 10% on a specific date. The KeizerTimes writes good articles, but I think it left a few things out on this one. (sells copy better) I understand Evans sentiments, but I think the District has made us competative with other departments and I’m hopeing we will keep good employees and entice good candidates in the future. Dealing with over 4000 calls a year, I would hope we would want caring, competent firefighter/paramedics.

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