Elk Grove Village recently approved a five-year contract with Firefighters Association Local 2340. Firefighters had been working without a contract since May 1. The new contract is retroactive and runs through April 30, 2017.
Negotiations weren't contentious but dragged on because officials waited to see what types of raises were being given out in comparable towns that also were in negotiations, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said Wednesday.
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The agreement calls for 3 percent raises in the first year, 2 percent raises in years three and five, and increases adjusted to be $170 lower each year than raises for police officers in years two and four. The latter adjustment is mandated by an arbitration order made more than a decade ago, Johnson said.
"The increases in the fire department are tied very closely with the police department," Johnson said. "We have guidelines that we follow. The raises weren't significant."
Police union contracts are adjusted annually to be competitive with area police departments.
Many suburban towns and school districts are shying away from long-term contracts because it locks them in to raises irrespective of a poor economy hurting tax revenues.
"A five-year contract, especially in today's society, is almost unheard of," Johnson said, adding that the village fared well in the latest economic downturn because employees stepped up. "Our unions all gave up their increases one year, so they are willing to work with this village. We've got a great rapport with our people. This is just another example of it."
Firefighters took a pay freeze in 2010 despite being guaranteed a 3.25 percent raise. Police officers also agreed to a pay freeze that year.
Johnson said retroactive pay for the firefighters will be reflected in paychecks issued this week. The contract "gives us stability that we always look for," he added.
The village's police and public works unions each are on five-year contracts. The police contract is valid for three more years, and public works expires in four years.
The village is projecting a $1.5 million deficit in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins May 1. The $90 million total budget for expenditures is roughly 4 percent, or $3 million, less than the 2012 budget. Operating expenses are expected to increase by about 2 percent next year to $47 million.
The budget includes an increase in capital expenditures for equipment replacement, such as public works trucks and police squad cars, and repairs to fire engines, that officials have held off on for some years, Johnson said.
"It truly isn't a deficit," Johnson said of the budget being in the red. "Normally, in most communities, you don't spend 100 percent of your budget. If you look at our history, we are projecting to break even during this budget cycle, if not $30,000 or $40,000 (in surplus)."
The village is projecting a $1.2 million budget surplus at the end of the current fiscal year, Johnson added.
The 2013-2014 budget for expenditures will be adopted at the April 23 village board meeting.