The City of Cedar Park demonstrated its support for its firefighters with unanimous passage of a new three-year contract that will include pay increases for all members of the department.
“I’m glad to be able to put forward a much more aggressive contract,” said Mayor Matt Powell. “The process last year wasn’t great. The process this year has had its ups and downs, but both sides agree where we ended up with last year’s negotiations wasn’t acceptable. To be able to, especially with a longer term contract, go much larger and be competitive region-wide was a goal for both sides.”
The contract is pending approval by the firefighters association, which is considering the proposal.
The new agreement, when finalized, would expire at the end of 2019 and includes additional salary and incentive pay for the department totaling $1.9 million over that span. The additional costs had already been planned for in the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Under the contract, firefighters will see a pay increase of four percent in 2017, followed by a three percent increase the following year and a two percent increase in the final year of the agreement.
“Public safety is one of the most important things we do here at the city, keeping our residents safe. I know traditionally the city has spent more than half the budget doing that,” said Councilman Corbin Van Arsdale. “The typical firefighter under this is going to get a 15 percent wage increase over three years. They deserve more pay. This deal does that.”
Additional increases are included at entry and one-year level. The standard 1.75 percent step increase for all remains in place.
Firefighters can also earn additional pay for education and specialized assignments. Education pay can range from $600 to $3,000 annually, while Spanish or sign language proficiency pay increases from $900 to $1,020 per year.
Specialized assignments within the department can earn a firefighter up to $1,800 in the second and third years of the contract.
According to the city, a typical firefighter with five years experience earns $53,294 today before any education incentives. In 2019, the same firefighter with eight years of experience will earn $61,342 plus incentives.
In addition to being pleased with the raises in the contract, councilman Cobby Caputo was pleased with the three-year length for budgeting purposes and department stability.
“This is by far the best contract I’ve ever seen us offer to public safety officials during the time we’ve been doing meet and confer,” Caputo said.“The contract, the way it’s structured, the specific provisions, the increase, reflect a lot of policy goals for myself and I think the rest of the council to keep us not only competitive in the area, but that we have the best fire department in