Firefighters with the West Shore Fire District tin West Haven have agreed to forgo a pay raise to ease the burden on taxpayers.
The fire district members said they known the challenges faced in the city, and the state, so they’re making the move to do what they can to make a difference, with the hope that the financial climate will eventually improve.
“That's wonderful and I think if we all went without a small amount of money, we could do a lot of changes,” said West Haven resident Chere Aiudi-Washenko
Residents were pleased to hear about the unexpected move by one of their town’s fire districts, which will save them money in the coming years.
For the next two years, the more than 30 firefighters in the West Shore Fire District won’t see any pay increases. As part of their contract extension, the union opted to forgo any raises to help lower the tax burden for all residents.
“We understand there's a lot of people in the city that are making sacrifices and we want them to know that we're sacrificing right there with them,” explained Christopher Haley of Local 1198, West Shore Professional Firefighters.
The union voted unanimously to approve the change, opting not to receive increases of 1.75 percent annually, which is projected to save taxpayers $270,000 over two years.
“It was a lot to ask of them. I was really good that we were able to come to terms,” said Robert Bruneau, a West Shore fire commissioner.
The fire district says it’s taken big cuts from the state – around $225,000 a year in pilot money in addition to a bigger mandated retirement obligation, making the need to find savings even more essential.
With that in mind, members said they thought this was the right move, and one they hope others around a cash-strapped Connecticut will follow.
“Not only first responders, I think hopefully the rest of the city and state follow suit. Everyone needs to come together and make cuts somewhere. We need to make sacrifices, clearly, or else it's just not going to work,” said Evan Mink, a West Shore fire commissioner.
The fire district members say while they’re glad to make this change for the greater good, they hope when the next contract negotiation rolls around in a few years, they won’t need to make this concession.