City Council Promises Firefighter Raises - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/10/06

City Council Promises Firefighter Raises

A 22% raise, that's the number Lubbock firefighters say would be a fair salary compared with the rest of the state. On Monday, the city council admitted they haven't given adequate raises to firefighters in years. As a matter of fact, Lubbock is ranked 35th in the state for pay and compensation, but the city council vowed to change that. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel explains how city council plans to bump Lubbock to the top ten highest salaries in the state.

The problem city council now faces, is how they plan to keep their promise to firefighters without raising taxes for the rest of us. Mayor David Miller said, "What does that mean on the tax rate from the citizens of Lubbock? I don't know. Where does the money come from?" 

It's a promise to give more money to Lubbock's finest, but the problem is finding funding.  "It all comes down to dollars."  Mayor Miller and the city council voted unanimously for the resolution that went something like this... (Gary Boren reading) "The foundation for success for Lubbock Texas lies in providing superior public safety services."  John Leonard reads, "...in order to compete for these individuals, our goal will be to place the Lubbock fire department and the Lubbock police department within the top 10 fire and police departments in the state of Texas. Floyd Price finished reading the resolution saying, "...by making Lubbock a model city and safest in the state."

Lubbock's starting salary is $34,000 a year, and if it's true you get what you pay for, Technically, we'd get a 35th ranking fire department. But Fire Chief Steve Hailey says that's not the case. "It's a medium salary, and I don't feel that they deliver a medium service."

"When applicants started going down we knew something was wrong."  Ricky Murphy with the Lubbock Professional Firefighters Association says it would take a 22% raise to rank them in the top ten best salaries, but after an admitted drought of raises, anything would be appreciated. " We have a lot of benefits here in Lubbock, good quality of life and just being able to take care of their families better will be a huge difference in the firefighters also."

Out of the current top ten highest paid firefighters across Texas, Plano is number one, paying their rookies a starting salary of $50,000. Mesquite is in the middle range of $46,000, and the rest are paid about $40,000 in the first year. Right now Lubbock firefighters start off at $34,000. They say a 15% raise would put them right at the $40,000 range.  Firefighters received a 1% cost-of-living raise last year, other cities we listed got at least a 2% raise.

No numbers have been tossed around yet, and they probably won't be until at least budget time.  Also, the council is factor in cost of living, being that it is less to live in Lubbock than the Metro-Plex area.

Councilman Gary Boren says the top 10 is just a goal, but it's also a commitment to show police and fire departments they are a priority.

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