HILLSBORO—City Administrator Matt Stiles presented a proposal to increase firefighter pay at the Tuesday city council meeting.
Currently, the department pays $12.50 per run for firefighters and $17.34 to the chief and assistant chief. The requested increase was to $15 per run for firefighters and $20 per run for the chief and assistant chief.
Stiles said the department members are paid semi-annually, for runs from December through May and June to November. Stiles said, in researching how other departments in the state function, most are volunteer and employee hybrid. However, other departments’ volunteer compensation runs from totally volunteer with no payment, to Goessel’s mileage reimbursement “all the way to $30 per run” with pay “average is about $15.69.”
Stiles encouraged the council to approve the increase.
“From a competitive perspective, the $15 request is not out of line,” he said.
Stiles added, historically, it was intended firefighters receive $15 per run. A previous move took rates from $10 per run to $12.50 “with the intention of going to $15 in a two-step phase.”
Stiles said the difference in total compensation, if applied to the 2020 run numbers, would have amounted to $3,594 in additional funds spent. He said, with “about $9,000 leeway in the personnel fund for responding, there should be sufficient resources, unless we have a really, really bad year. If we had that abnormal of a response year, we have bigger problems than how to pay for the fire responses.”
Councilman David Loewen expressed concerns about false alarms and fines incurred that could offset the cost to the department. Stiles said any false alarm fines of $50 would be slated for the General Fund, which subsidizes the fire department.
Mayor Lou Thurston said he approved of the measure.
“I defy anyone to find a better volunteer department than ours in terms of ability, response, dedication, training to stay current,” he said. “I think I’d like to see us go ahead and take action on this.”
The council unanimously approved the response compensation rate.