Public safety workers get raises - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Public safety workers get raises

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Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:35 pm | Updated: 1:55 pm, Wed Dec 21, 2011.

Mesa’s police and firefighters will get a 2 percent raise in January, restoring a pay cut the city began in 2009. The raises for public safety employees come more than a week after the city approved a similar pay hike for the rest of its workforce.

The raises are a sign Mesa’s finances are stabilizing and the city is more confident in the economy’s direction.

The city planned the pay cuts at the height of the recession in late 2008. As tax revenue plummeted, the city cut $62 million from its budget, eliminated 343 positions and scaled back city services.

The city’s public safety unions raised concerns at the time of the cuts and asked Mesa to restore pay as quickly as possible, saying they could hurt morale and make it more difficult to keep employees. But city revenue continued to plummet, leading Mesa to slash 90 positions in 2010.

It’s taken until now for Mesa’s budget to meet projections and for city officials to say they’re comfortable they’ll have enough money to continue funding higher pay levels.

Also, the city is able to fund much of the pay increase after finding $4.5 million in employee benefit savings.

The City Council approved the pay hike for police on Monday. That includes a uniform allowance of $990, up from $875.

The pay increase for firefighters will go into effect without formal City Council action. A contract with the fire union allowed the increase to take place automatically a result of the City Council approving a 2 percent pay raise earlier this month for the rest of Mesa employees.

The police and fire unions had options to negotiate targeted raises for certain employees.

However, both unions asked the city for across-the-board increases.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or ggroff@evtrib.com

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