The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Union ratified a new three-year contract with the town this morning by a vote of 16-14. The contract freezes the current firefighter pension plan and caps the town’s financial responsibilities moving forward.
Human Resources Manager Lisa Silvertooth and Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi confirmed the ratification of a new contract at noon today. The town’s 30 union members have been voting on the contract in shifts at the town’s two fire stations over the past two days.
Town labor attorney Reynolds Allen said the contract is considered verbal until a signed copy of the contract arrives at his office by the end of the day. Once it’s reviewed, Town Manager Dave Bullock and the Longboat Key Town Commission will officially sign the contract.
“The contract was ratified and I think everyone is looking forward to moving forward,” Dezzi said.
The vote comes a month after the Longboat Key Town Commission unanimously ratified the contract at a Jan. 22 special meeting.
The town and its firefighters reached a tentative agreement in December to freeze the firefighters’ current pension plan and enroll current and future firefighters in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) plan.
The town and firefighters will split required FRS contributions 50/50, with the town’s maximum contribution capped at 13%, according to the agreement.
The Florida Division of Retirement and FRS have also agreed that firefighters can make after-tax reimbursements to the town toward their employee benefits and won’t have to make pre-tax reimbursements toward their new pensions, which would have reduced their wages.
Longboat Key commissioners are pleased with the hybrid pension solution that was reached and the town is expected to offer a similar plan to the Longboat Key Police Union when it begins meeting in March to discuss a new three-year contract. It’s a goal of the commission to freeze the current pension plans and begin paying off more than $27 million in unfunded pension liabilities.
For more information, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Feb. 28 Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].