City will increase firefighter payPay will increase from $6 per call to $10 per call
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Rosemount’s firefighters will get a pay bump in 2013. On Tuesday the city council voted to increase firefighter pay from $6 to $10 per call and to raise officers’ pay 10 percent.
The raise will bring the department closer in line with what other communities pay their firefighters. While Rosemount has one of the highest fire pension benefits in the area, its overall compensation lags in comparison. In 2012 firefighter pay increased from $2 to $6 per call.
City administrator Dwight Johnson said the city has had a goal of 50 paid-on-call firefighters for many years but has not been able to get to that number. Department numbers have consistently been in the low 40s. However, several members retired in 2012, dropping the department to fewer than 40.
Fire chief Scott Aker said he’s not sure whether the additional pay will help the department recruit more members but he believes it will help retain more firefighters. The fire department will recruit new members this spring.
“I think it will help a little bit. They have other things tugging at their time commitments.”
While he was in favor of the pay raise, mayor Bill Droste said the focus has been off for the last decade regarding firefighter compensation. He said the city has thrown a lot of money into the fire relief fund and that going forward how the department receives compensation needs to be evaluated.
“We need to create a balance,” said Droste.
In discussing the current pay raise council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan also wanted an idea of what the future holds for the department.
“Where is this all going?” asked Shoe-Corrigan during a recent work session.
Currently the department has no full-time staff. Many neighboring communities have at least some on-call staff. Johnson said he believes that may be something Rosemount has to consider. For now, though, Johnson said the council has the opportunity to make an investment.
“It’s an investment to avoid a big expenditure in a few years. The most important factor for us is to make sure we’re stable and possibly add some firefighters,” said Johnson.
City finance director Jeff May said Rosemount pays considerably less for its fire department than other communities and that the council should do what it can to continue the current system even if it means raising on-call pay.
“We’re getting a bargain,” said May.
A motion approving the pay was approved during the council’s March 19 meeting. Firefighters will receive the new pay going back to the beginning of the year.
In other fire department news the council will vote on a new fire chief at the April 2 council meeting. Johnson said the city received four applications for the positions. All the applicants meet the city’s requirements. A panel that included police chief Eric Werner, Droste, Johnson and three firefighters interviewed the four candidates. The city will hold a listening session with firefighters March 25 to get comments from department members.
A recommendation will be on the council’s April 2 agenda.
Council member Mark DeBettignies was not happy with the process and asked to see the applications of each candidate before making a decision. He also asked why the council wasn’t more involved in the interviewing process.
Johnson said they could arrange interview with the council if DeBettignies wanted. DeBettignies just asked that they receive the four applications to help in their decision making.