by Brent Hovey

Reporter

Aurora Local firefighters and the city have reached a deal on a new three-year contract that includes pay raises and a new health care plan.

The contract, which was approved at City Councils Jan. 22 meeting, covers part- and full-time firefighters 15 employees in all according to Law Director Alan Shorr.

The new contract was approved by a 9-0 vote. The old contract expired Dec. 31, 2005. The time between expiration and ratification was due to the negotiating process, according to Shorr.

The firefighters, represented by the International Association of Fire Firefighters Local 2488, signed the contract during a weekend meeting before the Council meeting, he added.

A representative for the union could not be reached for comment.

Firefighters will receive a 4 percent increase in the first year of the contract, with the raise retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006.

In years two and three of the contract, firefighters will receive 3.75 percent and 3.5 percent increases, respectively.

Captains also will see a hike in their salaries 5 percent more than lieutenants. However, the captain increases wont take effect until January 2008.

THE OTHER major change in the contract come in the area of health care coverage. A visit to a doctor will be covered with a $10 co-pay instead of 20 percent of the cost of the visit.

That change is consistent with union contracts for city service and clerical workers, which were approved in December 2006.

A new option for firefighters will be included as a part of an IRS 125 plan. It gives employees the option of putting aside tax-free money from paychecks to cover medical costs that exceed deductibles. The police department is under the same plan, Shorr said.

The health care changes will be implemented as soon as possible, but Shorr said that probably will not be until April, when a third party administrator sets up the changes.

For the first time, firefighters will be given two personal days under the new deal. Shorr said they have never had such days before.

Fire Chief David Barnes said he believes it was a good deal for his staff.

"Im sure everyone is happy its settled," he said. "Its good because its the same increases as other city employees, with two additional benefits that also were included in the police contract."

E-mail: bhovey@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3115