The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District has reduced firefighter pay, responding to concerns that its personnel costs were causing budget shortfalls.
Metro Fire firefighters earned an average of $122,700 in pay, overtime, incentives and vacation cash-outs on retirement in 2013, down 11 percent from 2010, after adjusting for inflation, according to a Bee analysis of new data from the State Controller’s Office.
The cuts are a result of hiring new employees at lower pay rates with fewer incentives, said Capt. Michelle Eidam. Firefighters at the department have not had a raise since 2008, she said. They made pay concessions at salary negotiations during the recession.
Metro Fire has long been known as one of the best-paying fire departments in the state. Like other departments, it ran into budget troubles during the recession and needed to reduce costs.
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Last year, community complaints about Metro Fire’s personnel costs and an implied legal threat led Chief Kurt Henke to decide against asking property owners for a $27.50 annual assessment to reopen some fire stations.
“This is by design,” Eidam said of the pay cuts. “That’s a trend we expected.”
Average pay for firefighters statewide in 2013 was roughly $125,000, up about 3 percent from the prior year.
Visit www.sacbee.com/datatracker to see average pay for police officers and firefighters in nearly every California city.