Council approved a collective agreement with the Fort Frances Professional Firefighters Association at last night’s council meeting, but the town is saying the new deal will prove to be “very costly for the corporation and for the taxpayers of the Town of Fort Frances.”
The arbitrated award includes a 16 percent wage increase over a four-year period, with a three percent hike in 2009, four percent in 2010, four percent in 2011, and five percent in 2012.
It also includes recognition pay, which is a bonus system based on a percentage of firefighters’ wages. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, firefighters with eight years of service will get recognition pay equal to two percent of their wages; with 17 years, four percent; and with 23 years, six percent.
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the eight year bonus will increase to three percent; the 17-year bonus will go up to six percent; and 23-year bonus, nine percent.
The deal also includes a full benefit plan for retirees until the age of 65.
In a press release, the town stated: “The cumulative cost of this award through 2012 is $171,000, which equates to a two percent tax increase, and will only grow as year of service increase and wages are increased.
“These cost factors will make it extremely difficult to maintain the same level of service, as these employee costs continue to escalate out of the control of the corporation and without regard for the ability to pay.”
Also at last night’s meeting, council:
•referred a resolution from the Economic Development Advisory Committee re: Fort Frances/district partnership for the long term purchase of the events tent to the Administration and Finance executive committee for recommendation;
•referred additional correspondence from J. Steinke re: handicapped parking at the Memorial Sports Centre to the Community Services executive committee for recommendation;
•passed a bylaw to amend the Town of Fort Frances By-Law 10/03 (the traffic control bylaw) to remove reduced speed zones in the vicinity of the now-closed Huffman School and provide for a reduced speed limit on Gillon Street and in the arena parking lot;
•passed a bylaw to authorize a lease with respect to certain municipal property at 501 Sixth Street West;
•passed a bylaw to authorize execution of a renewal lease agreement with the Ontario Realty Corporation for space in the Civic Centre for Ontario Provincial Police services;
•approved an agreement with Rainycrest to provide transit services for five years, and then passed a bylaw to authorize the agreement;
•passed a bylaw to approve a contract with Lakeside Process Controls Ltd. for support services re: Emerson Process Management Control System installed at the waste water and water treatment plants;
•approved a report to enter into a contract with DataFix for purposes of utilizing Municipal VoterView software 2011-2014 at a total cost of $4,200 plus taxes. They then passed a bylaw to approve an agreement with DataFix for web hosting services;
•passed a bylaw to authorize the entering into of certain lease agreements at the Fort Frances Municipal Airport;
•supported in principle a letter from the Rainy River Future Development Corp. re: a district-wide strategic plan;
•agreed to sign a letter of support from the Northern Community Development Services Transition Centre re: continued provision of services and programs by NCDS Career Works; and
•deferred a request from the Northwest Training and Adjustment Board re: a municipal appointment to the next council meeting (Feb. 22).