O’side firefighters will see a pay increase next year

OCEANSIDE — City Council unanimously approved a one-time stipend and across the board pay raise for firefighters without discussion on Sept. 24

The MOU between the Oceanside Firefighters Association and the city was viewed as satisfactory by firefighters who will get a 2.5 percent pay increase next fiscal year, which falls one percent short of the local cost of living increase.

“I wouldn’t use the word happy, I’d say we are content,” Dave Overton, Oceanside fire captain and president of the Oceanside Firefighter Association, said.

“It’s not the best contract ever. We would prefer a pay raise equal to the cost of living.”

Overton said firefighters are willing to wait out further economic recovery before demanding a full cost of living increase. The Firefighter Association’s next negotiations with the city will be in two years.

City Manager Steve Jepsen said the agreement was a “fair deal.” He added agreed on incentives are significant enough to aid Oceanside in retaining its firefighters.

According to salary comparisons on the Indeed.com website, Oceanside firefighters are currently making equal wages to firefighters in the smaller neighboring cities of Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, and slightly less than Encinitas firefighters.

The approved agreement includes a $3,330 non-PERSable employee stipend, and slight increase in bilingual pay and health insurance coverage this fiscal year. Increased benefits add up to $502,718, including PERS increases, and will be covered by

city general funds.

Next July the 2.5 percent pay increase will kick in, as well as a slight increase in uniform allowance. The $347,593 cost, including PERS increases, will be folded into next year’s budget. It was also agreed to discuss retiree health benefits.

Firefighters have consistently abided by MOUs that favor what is in the best interest of the city as a whole.

The last pay increase for firefighters was granted in 2010, but also came with a higher employee paid PERS amount and less sick days, which nullified the impact of the pay increase.

In 2012 firefighters agreed to pay 100 percent of their employees PERS, and received no salary increase.

The approved MOU is the first pay raise a city employee group has received in the past couple of years. Overton said he hopes fellow city employee groups also realize an awaited bump up in pay.

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