Nearly five years after the Edmonds City Council voted to contract with Snohomish County Fire District 1 to handle City of Edmonds fire services, the city has been hit with a $1.67 million bill covering retroactive pay raises for the Fire District’s union employees. Here’s the city announcement My Edmonds News received Tuesday morning:
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling announced Tuesday that the City of Edmonds, together with the cities of Mountlake Terrace and Brier, has received word from Fire District 1 leadership that, pursuant to contracts with their union personnel, the cities now owe retroactive payment for represented employee pay raises accruing from 2013 and 2014. For the City of Edmonds the bill amounts to $1.67 million.
“While we had been expecting an eventual bill from the Fire District for this back-pay, we were definitely taken aback at the size of the bill,” remarked Mayor Earling, referring to provisions in the contract between the City and Fire District 1, resulting from the City’s 2009 decision to contract directly with the District for service, that allow for such a retroactive payment. The Mayor added: “we are currently working with Fire District 1 representatives and our attorneys to analyze the details of the requested payment in attempt to find any potential savings that could lower the final bill.”
The Mayor stated that he and his staff are exploring all options to be able to accommodate this new financial obligation, pointing out that this payment will definitely impact the City’s potential flexibility to accommodate new programs or initiatives in the 2015 budget.
Looking ahead, after this bill for back-pay has been dealt with, the City, along with its neighbors, will also need to include room in future budgets to accommodate Fire District personnel cost-of-living increases in future years.