Tri States Public Radio Staff
Higher Public Safety Staffing
Tue December 24, 2013
New Contracts for Fort Madison Employees
The Fort Madison City Council has approved new contracts with two of the unions representing city employees.
A two-year deal with the city’s firefighters will begin on July 1, 2014.
It includes a 2.75% wage increase in year one, a 2.5% hike in year two and additional pay for paramedic training and hazmat certification.
In exchange, the firefighters agreed to pay more for their health insurance policies.
They had been covering 4% of a single plan and 8% of a family plan. Those percentages will now jump to 6% and 10% respectively.
Employees in the public works department will cover the same rates for their health insurance as part of a new one-year contract with the city, which would take effect July 1, 2014.
The deal also calls for higher wages, to the tune of roughly 3%.
The city plans to begin contract talks with employees in the water department and at the public library early next year.
Meanwhile, there will now be more police officers and firefighters on duty in Fort Madison.
The city council has increased the minimum staffing level for each department by one, so there must now be at least four firefighters and three police officers on duty.
City Manager Byron Smith says minimum staffing levels were reduced, several years ago, because of the amount of overtime being spent trying to maintain them.
He says that is less of an issue, today, because of more sales tax revenue.
Smith says he has spoken with Police Chief Bruce Niggemeyer and Fire Chief Joey Herrin about the change. He says they are confident that overtime will remain steady and additional employees will not be needed.
Smith says if the budgets do become strained, the departments will return to the lower minimum staffing levels.
He says no injuries or fatalities have occurred by having fewer people on duty.
There have been a few times, though, when firefighters had to wait for back-up to arrive before entering a structure.
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