Talks between the town of Longboat Key and its firefighters are ongoing to discuss a new three-year contract today at Town Hall.
The firefighters rejected a deal this morning that the town proposed, which offered a three-year deal with a raise in year one of the contract and left the pension issue at impasse to be discussed at a future date.
Instead, the union proposed a contract this morning that freezes its pension plan to new hires, enrolls current and future employees in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) and caps pension employee contributions the town would have to make to the FRS at 20%. If employer contributions ever rose more than 20%, the firefighters have agreed to pay additional contributions over 20% themselves.
As part of the proposal, firefighters are asking for a 1% cost of living increase for every year a firefighter has not received a pay increase (up to 5% for many firefighters); and a 3% cost of living increase for all employees that would take effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Town staff countered the firefighters’ proposal just before noon, expressing concern with the town still being liable for contributing to a pension plan. Instead the town is offering to pay 13% of a firefighter’s base salary that firefighters could put toward any sort of retirement plan they wish and doesn’t involve the town being responsible for contributions.
“The town wants out of the pension business,” said town labor attorney Reynolds Allen. “We could pay the union 13% per employee and you do whatever you want with it.”
The town and the firefighters are set to continue discussions through 5 p.m. today and are also set to meet again 10 a.m. Friday at Town Hall in an attempt to reach a three-year contract.
For more information, check www.yourobserver.com for updates and pick up a copy of Thursday’s Dec. 13 Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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