City of Riverside, Firefighters Reach Agreement on 5½-Year Contract
“We came together with City leadership to ensure that public safety is minimally impacted and that our members will still enjoy a compensation package that acknowledges the risks they take daily while protecting the citizens of Riverside.”
Firefighters will defer a raise and pay into their retirement to help balance City budget
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The City of Riverside and the Riverside City Firefighters Association have reached an agreement on a 5½-year contract that, for the first time, calls for all employees to pay a portion of their pension premiums and ties future raises to the City’s overall financial performance.
Firefighters also agreed to defer a 2.5 percent raise that was to take effect July 1 in order to help the City balance its 2016-18 budget. The agreement calls for raises of varying amounts in years 2-5 of the contract, starting Jan. 1, 2018.
“From the beginning, labor and management came together and collaborated on this process,” Fire Chief Michael Moore said. “I’m grateful that, because of that relationship, we had the opportunity to galvanize trust and demonstrate openness and leadership. We hope to be a model for the rest of the City.”
Contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) will start in the third year of the contract and eventually reach a cumulative 8 percent of each employee’s salary. Firefighters who are not already paying such premiums will, starting in the contract’s third year, on Jan. 1, 2019, pay PERS premiums of 2.5 percent, 2.5 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent in each of the following four years.
Raises, starting in the second year of the contract, will range from 2 percent to 5 percent each year, depending on the performance of key financial indicators in the City – property taxes, a portion of the sales taxes, utility taxes and taxes on occupied hotel rooms. Tying raises to the City’s financial performance through such a “Balanced Revenue Index” is part of a new system called the partnership compensation model.
“I greatly appreciate the understanding of our financial situation that the firefighters demonstrated and their willingness to partner with City management to ensure the City’s long-term financial health,” City Manager John Russo said. “These are important concepts as we move forward.”
The range for each year’s raise throughout the contract, as determined by the balanced revenue index, is 2-4 percent in years 2 and 5, and 3-5 percent in years 3 and 4. A 1.5 percent incentive is included in years 3 and 4 that is not tied to the financial indicators.
In effect, most firefighters will get a raise each year, and about half that raise will go toward paying their pension premiums.
“The Riverside City Firefighters’ Association recognized the budget challenges facing Riverside,” President Tim Strack said. “We came together with City leadership to ensure that public safety is minimally impacted and that our members will still enjoy a compensation package that acknowledges the risks they take daily while protecting the citizens of Riverside.”