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Common Council approves new fire department contract

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

City of Marion firefighters will receive a 3 percent raise in 2020 among other approved changes to the department’s contract.

Marion Fire Department Chief Geoff Williams presented the changes in the contract to Marion Common Council Tuesday night.

The changes were made to help compensate for the risk that firefighters take as part of their jobs.

Williams said the amount of city firefighters has declined throughout the years, with only 57 members currently active.

He said that in the 1980s, there were as many as 84 active members.

Although there are fewer firefighters, Williams said there’s the same amount of calls as there always have been.

“It’s just what the sign of the times is for Marion. … A lot more work for a lot less guys,” Williams said.

Council member David Homer said he wanted to stress that even with the decline in firefighters and overall population, the area, which was built to accommodate 40,000 people, has not changed.

In addition to the 3 percent pay increase in 2020, firefighters will also receive a $500 increase in 2019 and a $1,000 increase in 2020 of holiday pay.

In previous years, firefighters transferred $1,000 from their holiday pay to their base pay in order to increase their pension.

Now the pension will be the same and the holiday pay will increase.

The contract also addresses changes to overtime pay, which could incentivize employees to come in when the department needs more people.

Williams said that with only three investigators at the department, there have been some instances where two are out of town and the third has taken a vacation day when they needed an investigator.

He also said they wanted to be able to give employees the opportunity for overtime even if they’re signed up for training classes.

Council voted to pass the agreement.

Also at the meeting, council member Brad Luzadder invited attendees to join in a fundraiser hosted by Let My Light Shine to raise money to place solar lights at the graves of those resting at the Marion National Cemetery.

The fundraiser will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Sunnycrest Baptist Church.