New Contract with DeKalb Firefighters Contains Provision for Automatic Renewals

DeKalb City Council re-did the whole police station discussion last year because the members didn’t want an old council to dictate decisions to the new one. Apparently it’s quite all right to run a labor contract with its firefighters into 2014, though — and maybe even into eternity, as with the city manager’s contract. Check this out (click on it for a larger image):

Maybe the above is partly why this happened. In addition to the lovely wage schedules, I mean (which I will save for another day).

Find the rest of the new contract with IAFF 1236 at this link: http://www.cityofdekalb.com/Fire/Download%20Docs/IAFF%20Contract%202011-2014.pdf

I will also place the link to the contract in the City Barbs sidebar for easy access since it is not yet showing up on the City of DeKalb downloads or FD pages.

Discussion of Unsustainable State Pensions

Prairie State Blue: The Problem with Pensions:

Defined benefit plans are not inherently unsustainable. They made sense and were solvent when salaries were lower, payout levels were lower, employees retired later and died earlier. With higher salaries and especially stepped-up pay schedules, earlier retirements, increased longevity, and payouts of up to 75% or higher on last year or so of salary, the system fails. In fact it has to fail.

What I like about the article is that the author has put out numbers we can play with. It’s not perfect — see the comments — but earns points for clarity and as a springboard for further discussion about reform.

DeKalb Firefighters’ Step B

[Correction 7/5: Whoops! The link provided goes to Aurora, CO, not to Aurora, IL, which is IAFF Local 99. Many thanks to the reader who let me know.]

Check out p. 60 of the DeKalb firefighters’ contract with the city. It’s the appendix showing the base pay agreement for the latter half of 2010, the one labeled “4% General Increases For All Classifications”.

Step A to Step B is not part of the 4% “general” increase. For example:

Firefighter/Paramedic Step A annual salary: $54,682.78
Firefighter/Paramedic Step B annual salary: $67,332.91

This is an increase of more than 23%.

In a related development, I’m creating my own chart of firefighter/paramedic base pay salary comparisons, but have gotten stuck on Aurora, which has a breakdown into several more firefighter pay grades than other municipalities do. If a knowledgeable someone could take a gander at p. 18 and let me know which one fits best, I’d be grateful. Contact yinn@citybarbs.com.

Rockford Firefighters Get 6% Pay Raise

An arbitrator awarded a 6% pay raise to Rockford firefighters.

City officials said the award will cost taxpayers an estimated $618,000 in 2011 and more than $1.2 million in 2012 when the 6.1 percent wage is in effect for a full year.

Arbitrator Robert Perkovich rejected the city’s offer of a 2 percent wage increase this year. [IAFF Local 413 president Lt. Brad] Walker called the salary hike overdue.

“There were no raises in ’09 and ’10,” he said. “We went 26 months without a general wage increase.”

Walker said the wage hike keeps the city’s firefighters in the same ballpark as other Illinois fire departments of similar size.

“We were just trying to stay close to our comparable cities,” Walker said of Aurora, Bloomington, Champaign, DeKalb, Joliet, Peoria and Springfield.

Rockford already faces a deficit of $4 million in the coming year. At least one alderman is calling for outsourcing ambulance services in response to the crisis.

City Layoffs

Here is a comment that popped up in another post this afternoon:

Well as of today start to look for your own way of provideing some city services. Twenty employees got laidoff today, and 10 others were taking the early retirment package, and reportly 2 got terminated. So what does this mean no one left to do the blue collar work.

At this moment the Daily Chronicle states that a news release with the specifics is expected about 4 p.m. It is 3:40 as I type this.

The budget hasn’t been finalized yet, but some contracts — AFSCME comes to mind — require prior notice for layoffs, in case the unions can come up with an alternative plan in the interim.

City Budget: Mulling Over Police, Fire and More

In 2008, in the midst of a self-proclaimed fiscal crisis, City Council voted to allow the (former) Community Development Department to obtain a new SUV.

This is symbolic, see? The Police and Fire departments have had to put off replacing vehicles and some equipment since then. The Police Department, in particular, is getting nickel-and-dimed on old patrol cars that should have been retired last year, and the year before, and the year before that. But Community Development got exactly what it wanted.

And, as each new downtown brick paver is tamped into place, it must seem like a slap in the face. Continue reading City Budget: Mulling Over Police, Fire and More

Another Meeting Marathon to Nowhere

City Council’s most damaging flaw is its low overall level of intellectual curiosity. Between the grandstanding and the gotchas and the preening and pomposity, there is little time or inclination left for understanding the fundamental shifts necessary for our continued well-being, much less prosperity. Whatever energy might have been devoted to real study of big-picture issues is instead spent at scrutiny of minutiae and potshots at the individuals who understand, care, and represent the struggling DeKalbite best.

Mac McIntyre expressed the only compassion to be witnessed in Council Chambers last night. He set real people of DeKalb — the foreclosed-upon, the unemployed, the underemployed — against the next extravagance contemplated for the downtown. The cognitive dissonance must have caused instant, painful hissing of synapses, for, instead of mirroring and applying the compassion, the response was defensive and dismissive.

And, even with hard numbers in front of them, Council continues to miss the point. Continue reading Another Meeting Marathon to Nowhere