County Executive says it’s to make Frederick County more competitive with surrounding jurisdictions.
Frederick, Md. (KM) Some additional money is coming to the paychecks of Frederick County’s career fire fighters. On Monday, County Executive Jan Gardner announced that she will give the career fire fighters and medics a 7.9% salary increasing beginning on October 26th.
She says it was mostly to make Frederick County more competitive with surrounding jurisdictions when it comes to salaries, noting that negotiations between the county and the Career Fire Fighters Association have not been very productive. “Because we have not had productive or fruitful negotiations for two years, that has added to the system of compensation falling behind. So, really, this all about being competitive and about me taking a leadership position of being responsible to make sure that we can provide for the care of our citizens,” County Executive Gardner said.
And she notes that opportunities are wide open for fire and rescue personnel. “we’re a young fire system, relatively speaking, at least as compared to some of our more urban neighbors,” says Gardner. “Everybody out there right now is looking to hire fire fighters and EMT’s. There is great demand. So that feeds into this need to make sure we have competitive pay.”
Gardner pointed out that this decision to increase salaries for career fire fighters and EMT’s has nothing to do with negotiations between the county and the Career Fire Fighters Association connected with binding interest arbitration It only has to do with making the county’s salaries for fire fighters and medics more competitive.
The County Executive says these pay raises will be financed through savings in overtime expenses, and not filling vacant positions. “We believe we’ll find some of this money in the existing budget, at least a large portion of it, because of overtime pay, and we have a number of vacancies which create salary savings,” She says.
But Gardner notes that she may need to come before the County Council in the future with a supplement budget.
She says the pay raises will be included in the county’s fiscal year 2021 budget when it’s drafted next year. “It certainly roll forward into the budget the following year,” says Gardner.
Prior to announcing her decision on Monday, the County Executive says she informed all seven members of the County Council. She said they were supportive. “Certainly, how it’s going to be paid for was a question I was asked by the County Council members. And I told them we’re going follow and see how the money flows throughout the year. And if we do need additional money, I’ll come to them with a supplemental budget increase. But I don’t expect the need to do that anytime soon,” she said.
Also, the County Executive says she’s told members of the Career Fire Fighters Association about her decision. “I certainly talked to the President of the Union and the Vice President of the Union, and they appreciated it. And I’ve several of the fire fighters get back to me directly with appreciation. So I’ve had a positive response,” she says.
Gardner says now county officials can concentrate on improving the process for calculating overtime pay for fire fighters.
By Kevin McManus