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Sacramento Metro reduces firefighter pay following budget concerns

Sacramento

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.

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.

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