Talks between the town of Longboat Key and its firefighters did not produce a three-year contract Thursday, even though discussions dragged on for eight hours and continued past 6:30 p.m. Both sides have agreed to meet again today at 11 a.m. to continue discussions.
The latest offer the union proposed to the town is an 18% raise for all firefighters in year one, plus a 1% cost of living increase for every year a firefighter has not received a pay increase (up to 5% for many firefighters). In the second year of the contract, firefighters would receive an additional 3% cost of living increase.
In return, firefighters would not challenge the closing of the pension plan and will place six firefighters directly into the Deferred Retirement Options Program (DROP). Firefighters, however, don’t want the town to open a defined contribution plan for firefighters.
“If the goal is to make employees responsible for their own retirement, they ought to invest the way they see fit,” said firefighter union attorney Jim Brantley.
The proposal would make those employees the highest paid group of firefighters in the state, but it would also be the first group in the state to allow its pension plan to be closed and the first not to have some sort of retirement plan in its place for union members.
For more information, check www.yourobserver.com for updates today and pick up a copy of Thursday’s Dec. 13 Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.