Fire district looking at raises for management

Raises for management level employees in the Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue District, which would bring them more in line with comparable positions elsewhere in Kitsap County, were discussed Monday by the CKF&R board of commissioners.

Raises ranging from 5 to 10 percent are being proposed by Fire Chief Scott Weninger for the deputy chief, the division chief, the finance manager, the human resources manager, the internet technology manager and the volunteer/support manager.

At Monday’s meeting, the board discussed the proposed raises, but delayed taking any action. The matter is expected to be on the commission’s next agenda later in the month.

Weninger introduced the idea of pay raises for management-level staff last month, citing that management employees had not had a pay raise, or any cost of living raises since 2009. Monday he proposed the following raises:

Deputy chief: $138,171, up 6.5 percent; Division chief: $130,843, up 5.6 percent; finance manager: $104,145, up 6.8 percent; HR manager: $100,082, up 10.2 percent; maintenance manager: $92,700, same as now with no raise; IT manager, $96,386, up 8.6 percent; and volunteer manager: $69,500, up 7.1 percent.

In total, including the increases in salaries and benefits, the cost to the district would be $47,713 annually.

The proposed raises were based on surveys that the district had which showed salaries for comparable jobs in comparable fire districts and in other government agencies within Kitsap County, Weninger said.

He said the salaries he was proposing were at just 95 percent of the market value for each position, meaning that the district’s management staff would still be 5 percent below the going rate for these positions.

Weninger said he was not proposing a raise for the facilities manager because his position had been recently combined with another position and at that time (2012) he was given a 10 percent raise.

Commissioner Ralph Rogers said he had problems with giving the district’s IT manger a raise since the person in the position had only been with the district for two months.

“At least let’s think about waiting until he’s off probation,” Rogers said.

Ronny Smith, vice president of Local IAFF 2819, the union representing firefighters and EMTs in the district, told commissioners that they should hold off on any management pay raises until 2015.

“To do this (give raises) without any alternative (new) source of revenue is not right,” Smith said. “We need to dedicate ourselves to serving the residents of this district and making sure we can provide the best service possible before looking at administrative pay raises.”

To that, commissioner Rogers asked if the union would be willing to “bypass the four percent (raise) you’re trying to get?”

The district is currently in contract negotiations with the union and union firefighters are working without a current contract.

On the topic of the district’s financial situation, Chief Weninger told the board that he had planned to bring to them the results of an internal economic summit. But he said there was not a clear consensus among the group about what should be done to raise revenue and he hoped to have that for them later in the month.

Weninger said he is still working on putting together a community group to weigh in on possible economic options for the district, including asking for a maintenance and operations levy, which the district doesn’t currently have. The district is also expected to place its EMS levy on an upcoming ballot for renewal.

The district has lost more than $1 million in property tax revenue in the last few years due to declining assessed values in the district. For months, commissioners have been looking at cost-cutting measures and efficiencies to combat that issue.

Commissioners were expected to vote Monday on closing the Tracyton Fire Station as a way of saving money, but opted to delay that decision until July.

“The possible closure of our Tracyton fire station is a very important issue, but it is not time critical,” said board member Bob Muhleman. “Board members want more time to review all of the provided input and data prior to making a lasting decision.”


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