ST. PETE BEACH – St. Pete Beach City commissioners voted unanimously March 29 to approve a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters Local 4966.
The new agreement is retroactive to Oct. 1 and continues through Sept. 30, 2019.
Among the more significant points, the firefighters’ retirement system and pension plan will be changed only through mutual consent of the city and the union. In the previous agreement, pension changes were not specifically addressed.
“Before we agreed to include this, we discussed this with our labor attorney and he explained to us what we already realized that this is just a recognition of the pension plan,” said City Manager Wayne Saunders. “It does not take away any of the city’s abilities as we move forward in negotiations.”
Other points of the contract include:
• Catastrophic illness leave was reinstated, allowing firefighters to contribute to a sick leave bank from which withdrawals can be made for catastrophic illness.
• Short-term disability is eliminated.
• “Kelly Days” are included as time counted toward overtime. Firefighters will receive a 24-hour shift off with pay every 13th shift, but no more than nine in a year. The estimated annual cost to the city is $4,800.
• Deleted the ability to hire a new employee above the minimum pay rate.
• Implemented a pay plan as recommended by the city consultant, Management Advisory Group. The range for firefighters/EMT is now $41,409 to $60,458, firefighter/paramedic, $46,935 to $68,197; lieutenant/EMT, $56,625 to $72,299; and lieutenant/paramedic, $59,457 to $75,914. The cost to the city this budget year is about $63,000, according to Saunders.
In other action, commissioners:
• Approved an individual project order with Kimberly-Horn and Associates for $59,150 to provide engineering services for three wastewater system repair projects.
• Passed an ordinance on first reading that addresses wastewater connection fees. The changes affect only new development. The fee for a typical residential hookup is currently $1,420 and will increase to $2,668. Commercial connection costs, which range as high as $133,000, depend upon the size of the line.