After months of negotiation, the Imperial Beach Firefighters' Association Local 4692 and City of Imperial Beach have entered into an agreement for the next two fiscal years.
City Council approved the agreement at their Sept. 7 meeting.
The new agreement is a big change in Firefighters/Paramedics retirement benefits as employees will now pay the entire portion of their California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) contribution.
Until the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) were agreed upon, .
The new MOU for fiscal years 2011-2013 will save the city $52,000 in benefit charges over the next two years and could save $28,000 or more each year for the next five years.
Efective immediately, terms of this MOU are retroactive to July 1, 2011.
Fire Captain and Public Safety Department director Tom Clark said there are no cost of living adjustments during the term of the agreement for the city's 11 full-time Firefighters/Paramedics.
The MOU mandates an Insurance Committee be established to review alternative insurance options. Clark said a review of health insurance options is necessary as continuous changes are happening on the national level.
"We don't know what will happen with Obamacare," Clark said. "Changes there can impact our employees drastically, especially part-time employees."
Also part of the agreement, as of January 1, 2012, smoking and tobacco of any kind is prohibited while on-duty. No employees can have visible tattoos while on-duty with the exception of workouts and physical fitness inside the fire station. Visible piercings are limited to one set of stud earrings per earlobe.
Mayor Jim Janney said it is important to acknowledge the members of the city's Fire Department and its commitment to creating a MOU that offsets the City's budget in tough economic times. He said firefighters have joined other .
"They really bent over backwards to accommodate the City's struggling budget, with what we have and what we can do to continue operating," he said.
Employees hired before July 1 will receive a stiped worth four percent of their pay in July in 2011 and 2012 to help them transition into increased health insurance costs for employees.
New hires after July 1 will be paid two percent at age 50 using the average of employee's highest three-year salary and pay the entire employee contribution.
Employees may not transfer unused sick leave to CalPERS service credit. Part-time employees participate in the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS), and will no longer pay into Social Security.
Maximum payments toward health insurance coverage or the purchase of other qualified benefits by the City will increase to $825, an increase of $50 July 1 and $855, an increase of $30 in July 2012.
Employees choosing alternative health care may cash out as taxable cash benefit a maximum of $775 per month for 2011.
Effective January 1, 2012 the payout will be reduced to $400 per month.
New hires under an alternative medical plan may cash out a maximum of $150 per month. Eligibility to opt out of the City's health plan requires proof of alternative medical and dental insurance.
Employees hired prior to July 1 may accrue up to 1400 hours of sick leave and will receive cash payment on June 30 each year for accrued hours over the maximum. New hires may accrue up to 1120 hours, with a payout of excess each June 30.
Firefighter/Paramedics will receive a specialty pay to maintain paramedic license of 11.3 percent of base pay, captains 5 percent and engineers 7.5 percent.
Retaining a paramedic license is a condition of employment with the city for all Firefighters/Paramedics.
Though not a condition of employment for captains and engineers, Clark said this specialty pay helps pay for the high cost of maintaining a paremedic license.
"This specialty pay is for employees that use their paramedic license every day on duty," Clark said. "They are compensated monthly for license upkeep and current continuing education."
An addition to the MOU provides staffing for three full-time fire suppression personnel for all shifts and provides classification for the position of Firefighter/Paramedic Recruit, working at a reduced salary until graduation and a probation period of one year.
Changes made include hours of work, educational benefits, physical examinations, out of classification pay, and holiday and vacation benefits.
This is agenda item 2.3 on the Sept. 7 City Council agenda.