In the September 23rd article about the abandonment of a joint Station 46 and the rebuilding of MOFD’s Station 43 at a cost of over $3 million, the firefighter’s union representative stated opposition to spending millions on a new station because “The union's base salaries have lagged inflation and are only around 5 percent greater than they were in 2006.” The firefighters believe that they are undercompensated and that any available funds should go to alleviate that condition.
Here are some facts regarding the firefighters’ compensation:
* While the MOFD firefighters may have only seen a 5% increase in base salaries since 2006, their total compensation has grown at over twice the rate of inflation since MOFD was formed in 1997. Since then, MOFD’s revenues have grown 145% while inflation has only grown 67%. MOFD has the same staffing today as in 1997, five stations housing 17 firefighters, and approximately the same percentage of MOFD’s total budget, 85%, goes to employee compensation today as it had when MOFD was first formed.
* If employee compensation had grown with inflation, which is not unreasonable, then compensation would only comprise 58% of today’s budget and there would be millions of dollars (about $6 million annually) available for enhanced safety improvements to the community.
* Unfortunately, the “story” gets worse. Since MOFD was formed, it has received, mostly from property taxes, about $300 million in revenue. 85 percent of that, $255 million, has gone to employee compensation. In addition, MOFD has underfunded its employee retirement benefit plans by $60 million over that time period. Adding the $60 million not yet paid to the $255 million already paid in compensation results in $315 million in total compensation. This exceeds MOFD’s total revenue since it was formed. And yet the employees believe that they are under compensated.
* The four year contract negotiated last year promised 6.5% in guaranteed raises and another 6% in raises contingent on increases in MOFD tax revenue increases (yes, they have a profit sharing plan). Half of the contingent raises have already been earned. This contract will result in over a 3% per year average increase; again over the historic rate of inflation. And for this the head of the union said he could not sleep at night.
When is it time to say “enough”?