Notes on Council fire vote

The Pensacola City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 707.

Councilman Mike Wiggins was absent from the meeting.
Councilwoman Jewel Cannda-Wynn asked whether the proposed firefighters’ salaries are comparable to police officers.’

“Well, Ms. Cannada-Wynn, this is fire department. These (salaries) are competitive with other firefighters,” City Manager Tom Bonfield said.

The new agreement substantially increases salaries, especially among fire captains and fire lieutenants, during a time of budget tightening and when a $337 flat fee for fire service has been proposed for homeowners.

The city estimates the agreement will expand its budget by $370,600. The bargaining agreement is in effect from Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2010.

At the meeting, Bonfield addressed questions he said he received beforehand from council member about signatures, including his own, already appearing on the agreement. Bonfield said that was because of the provisions of the statutes relating to collective bargaining.

Councilmen Jack Nobles and Mike DeSorbo separately confirmed that budget adjustments would not be necessary to allow for the increase. Councilman Marty Donovan questioned why the fire department spending continues to increase dramatically every three years. Donovan said
it’s dangerous to just assume that costs go up.

For his part, the Local 707 president, Bob Sumner, said : “We just don’t want to be last in line the next time around,” after he thanked officials for the increase “in these lean times.”