Wednesday, July 7, 2010 | 11:54 a.m.
The Las Vegas City Council today approved a new two-year contract with the city firefighters' union that amounts to a savings of $5.6 million this fiscal year and $900,000 next year for the city.
Key elements include firefighters getting no cost of living allowance and reducing some of their step pay increases.
Another key element is that the city wouldn't need to set up a "brownout" schedule to keep some firefighting vehicles off the street in order to save money in the budget.
"The main thing today is the citizens are protected again for another year for EMS, emergency medical services, and for also fire protection," said Dean Fletcher, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 1285, whose union finished ratifying the agreement Tuesday night.
"No brownouts," Fletcher said. "Response times are very important to us, but mainly to citizens."
The council approved the pact on a 5-1 vote, with the only no vote coming from Councilman Stavros Anthony.
Anthony said he didn't like the part of the agreement that would keep the city from conducting a study to privatize emergency medical services to an outside contractor until June 27, 2012.
"That disturbs me a little bit," Anthony said, explaining it worried him that it would set a precedent for a union to be able to collectively bargain away a city's ability to do a cost-saving study.
However, Mayor Oscar Goodman and Fletcher both said the agreement not to study privatizing EMS services was not part of the official contract, but was a separate side letter of agreement.
"It has no precedential value," Goodman said.
City Manager Betsy Fretwell said the reason that she tentatively agreed not to do an EMS cost-saving study was because it "tells firefighters we have faith in them."
The two-year pact covers the 2011 fiscal year, which began July 1, and the 2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2011.
Details of the agreement include:
-- No cost of living (COLA) adjustment in Fiscal Year 2011, with the ability of both parties to reopen the contract for negotiation of cost of living and salary schedules in Fiscal Year 2012. Fletcher told the council that this would be the second year in a row that firefighters would not get a cost of living increase. Fretwell said the cost saving would be $2 million.
-- A 50-percent reduction in step increases in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012, and a reduction in the first step for new employees by 5 percent in Fiscal Year 2011. That amounts to a savings of about $450,000 for each year of the contract, Fretwell said.
-- No uniform allowances in Fiscal Year 2011, with the ability of both parties to reopen the contract for negotiation in Fiscal Year 2012. That saves about $900,000, Fretwell said.
-- A reduction of medical contributions by the city from $450 per pay period, per employee to $360 per pay period, per employee. In addition, instead of receiving medical contributions for 26 pay periods annually, employees will only receive them for 24 pay periods. That saves about $1.8 million, Fretwell said.
-- A reduction of the emergency medical system (EMS) documentation pay for paramedics by 50 percent in Fiscal Year 2011, with total elimination in Fiscal Year 2012. Fretwell said that would save $450,000 per year.
-- An increase in the availability of “roving staff” to 8 percent, which will reduce overtime.
-- The city agrees not to pursue a request for proposal for the privatization of EMS services for the duration of the contract.
-- An elimination of the need for “brownouts” based on the ability to restore services through the savings in this agreement.