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.