Firefighters, police to pay into pensions
JANESVILLE The Janesville firefighter and police unions would begin to pay into their pensions under tentative three-year contracts with the city.
Human Resources Director Susan Musick said the unions recognize the city's "tight budget and economics."
The firefighters already have ratified their contract with about 90 percent voting in favor. Police are scheduled to vote today.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the contracts at its 7 p.m. meeting today in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.
Firefighters and police would pay employee pension contributions of 6.65 percent of their salaries in 2013 and 2014 and up to 7 percent in 2015.
Public employees who are not unionized public safety workers have been paying similar amounts into their pensions since Act 10 was enacted in 2011.
The provision would save the city $1.2 million over three years in firefighter pension costs alone, City Manager Eric Levitt said. The savings from police pensions was not immediately available.
According to the proposed contracts, firefighter and police personnel costs would increase about 1 percent over the three years of the contracts, or about $19,000 for firefighters and $23,000 for police officers.
Those figures do not include the negotiated step increases employees receive for longevity.
This compares to the city's average personnel increase in union contracts over the last 10 years of about 3 percent per year.
"The economics of Janesville are different today than they have been in the past," Levitt said. The firefighters and police officers have recognized that and worked with the council to hold costs steady, he said.
"I think it's a reasonable contract," Levitt said. "Both sides would like to have potentially a few changes here and there, but overall it's a reasonable contract for both the city and the union."
Other suggested contract provisions include:
-- General wages would increase 2 percent the first year, 2 percent the second year and 4.25 percent the third year. Musick recommends the city set aside money from the first two years of savings in the contracts to budget for the third year increase in costs.
-- Increasing firefighters holiday hours by 16 hours for a total of 144 hours. Police officer floating holidays would increase one day to a total of 11, which is what other city employees receive.
-- Police officers upon retirement would be paid $25 for each day of accumulated sick leave, up to 90 days.
-- Firefighters on probation hired above the current staffing levels could be scheduled to a different shift for a 27-day period without being paid the 24 hours of overtime given to other firefighters.
-- The city would match firefighter and police employee contributions to their deferred compensation plans up to 0.5 percent in 2014 and 1 percent in 2015.
The city will also change its health plan effective Jan. 1. The changes include increases in employee deductibles and office visit co-pays that should decrease the city's health insurance cost between 2 and 5 percent. Premiums will remain the same.
City employees contribute about 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance.
"I appreciate the (unions') ... understanding of our economics and the spirit of cooperation that was conducted throughout the negotiations," Musick said.