By Bonnie Culverhouse
Minden’s first responders are still hoping for raises, but they are also still seeking creative ways to achieve that goal.
Minden Firefighter Adam Bradley gave numbers to Minden City Council members during a recent workshop, allowing them to see the number of firefighters, years of service and their pay.
“It shows you where we are right now, and how much it would cost with the base salaries,” Bradley said.
While starting firefighters earn $8.85, firefighter/operators earn $9.74, captains see $11.06 and assistant chiefs see $13.28. The plan would bring firefighters to $13.75, firefighter/operators to $15.13, captains to $17.19 and assistant chiefs to $20.63.
Paid firefighters also receive a stipend from the state of $6,000 a year. Spread across 12 months, firefighters see $500 a month from those funds, before taxes.
A raise would not affect the chief nor volunteers, who are listed as part-time employees.
Fire Chief Kip Mourad said volunteers receive $20 per call, if they respond.
City costs – current and with the raise – appear as follows:
With one recently hired firefighter, current hourly wage is $8.85 per hour or $24,000 per year. His raise would be to $13.75 per hour and $37,895 annually. A difference of $13,495.
There is one firefighter that has been employed one year. He earns $9.95 per hour or $25,498 per year. His raise would be to $14.37 an hour or $39,600.28 per year. A difference of $14,102.28.
There are two fire/operators on the payroll. They currently earn $20.35 (combined) per hour or $56,095.60 (also combined)) annually. A raise would bring their salaries to $31.61 per hour combined and $87,120.61 per year combined, a difference of $31,025.01
Bradley’s chart then shows nine fire captains. Their combined hourly rates are $104.08, which brings their combined annual salaries to $445,503.09, a difference of $158,650.59.
Lastly, there are two assistant fire chiefs. Their combined hourly income is $27.76 and annually – also combined – is $76,494. Their proposed raise would bring them to $43.11 (divided by the two chiefs) and $118,800.83 per year (also, divided by the two). It is a difference of $42,306.83 combined.
The total amount to the city, after proposed raises, is $259,579.70 for all combined.
District A councilman Wayne Edwards told Bradley he feels the fire department does a great job.
“I don’t want to take anything away from you,” Edwards said. “When we did the budget, we really struggled to get a balanced budget. Every dime has already been allocated.”
Edwards admitted some adjustments in the budget need to be made.
“When I look at a proposal for salaries, most of them I see is a one-time thing, not for one, two or three years,” he continued. “Given the financial situation the city is in – we don’t make money, we just pay bills with what we take in.”
Edwards also pointed out the “poor response” from the mail-out survey in utility bills that asked if customers would approve having $5 added to their monthly bills to cover raises for first responders.
“That’s not going to be a source of revenue,” he said.
District B councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker told Bradley she appreciates the way in which firefighters talked with the council about the pay raises.
“I just appreciate the way you handled it,” she said.
District D councilman Michael Roy is scheduled to meet with interim City Clerk Michael Fluhr to discuss a possible way to fund raises for all first responders without dipping into the budget.