UPDATE: Council approves Wausau firefighter contract
WAUSAU (WAOW) -- The Wausau City Council has approved a new three-year firefighter contract.
The three-year deal requires firefighters to start paying into their retirement accounts—a move the city estimates will save $200,000.
"Over the three years, we really are positioned well to manage our personnel costs," said Michael Loy, Wausau human resources director.
To this point, firefighters haven't had to contribute anything to retirement. And they still don't have to, according to state law. But the city pushed for it, and firefighters agreed—as long as it's phased in during the next three years.
But Lt. Jeremy Kopp says agreeing to the contract was a difficult decision.
"It's always a little bit tougher to swallow when you're talking about taking away money or making paychecks smaller," said Kopp.
In return, though, firefighters get to count on several pay raises. They'll receive a one percent raise in January and July of 2013. Then, they'll receive a two percent raise twice in 2014.
"Kind of if you look at it as a little bit of an offset," said Kopp.
The contract took several months to negotiate. Both sides say it was civil.
"The process worked for us in the bargaining this round and we were able to get a fair deal positioned for three years that's going to really position the city well," said Loy.
But firefighters say the contract is difficult to swallow, even though it saves the city money.
"I don't know if there really is a big plus in this one," said Kopp. "I don't think anyone is in a great situation. I think this was a very hard contract to negotiate."
The contract passed unanimously at Tuesday's council meeting. It takes effect January 1, 2012.