Mundelein firefighter/paramedics to get pay raises
Mundelein's 14 unionized firefighter/paramedics will get 2-percent salary raises and be eligible for other pay bumps under a deal approved by the village board.
The raises for the full-time firefighters will be retroactive to May 1, 2011. That's when similar pay hikes were approved for other village employees, Fire Chief Tim Sashko said.
The fire department was left out at the time, because contract negotiations were under way then, Trustee Terri Voss said.
Trustees approved the raises with a single vote that covered several routine items on the agenda Monday.
The raises come at a time many suburbs, including Mundelein, continue to struggle financially because of decreased tax revenue and other financial shortfalls. But officials defended the move.
"We're obviously not rolling in money and we've still got some financial concerns, but we felt that it was important to give some compensation to the employees for their hard work and picking up the workload," Voss said.
The firefighters had gone without cost-of-living raises for a year and so-called "step" raises, which are based on experience, for two years, said Lynne Maley of the village's human resources department.
The average salary for the affected firefighter/paramedics is $69,063, Maley said.
The 2-percent cost-of-living increase will cost the village an additional $18,958 this fiscal year, Maley said. The longevity-based raises will cost the town $14,562 this year. That's a total of $33,520 this year.
The wage increases are consistent with the raises the village board approved this fiscal year for all non-unionized workers, Village Administrator John Lobaito said in a memo to the mayor and trustees.
Those raises will cost the village an additional $235,647 this fiscal year, Maley said.
The last few years have been a time of austerity at village hall.
Last year, Mundelein officials merged the engineering and public works departments to reduce costs. The year before, public operating hours at village hall and the staff's work hours were reduced.
In 2009, two police officers were laid off to reduce payroll spending. Employees have been forced to take furlough days, too.
Trustee Ray Semple called the 2-percent raises "modest" and said he wishes larger increases were possible.
"The employees have absorbed a lot," Semple said. "Hopefully, based upon the indicators in the housing market now, it looks as though we may be on our way out of the woods."