Boise city leaders told the public Friday that police officers and firefighters will take a pay cut in fiscal year 2013 to help in trying budget times, but there is more to the story.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter applauded the move, saying that it will ultimately aid the city’s finances. “During difficult times, we all need to make sacrifices,” Bieter said in a prepared statement. “It’s clear with this agreement that Boise police officers and firefighters are willing to step up and work as partners to help address our budget shortfall for the greater good of our community.”
Following a press conference to announce the move, the city issued a press release with this headline: “Boise police and firefighters agree to $1.2 million pay cut.”
While the city lauds police and fire workers for taking a cut in wages, what they are relinquishing are wage hikes guaranteed them in their collective bargaining agreement.
In October 2012, police officers and firefighters were slated to receive a pay hike of 2.5 percent. Not receiving the raise will mean $1.2 million in savings for the city.
Even without the increase in pay, some first responders are relatively well-paid.
City records showed that in 2011, some 33 police officers will receive more than $100,000 in pay. Collectively, the officers will bring in more than $3.5 million this year, or an average of about $107,000. Another 41 officers will earn more than $90,000 this year, totaling about $3.9 million in combined wages. A larger number of officers, 57 to be exact, take in more than $80,000 annually, or about $4.78 million in collective pay.
The police department will pay more than $27 million in wages this year, with the average employee bringing in $67,000.
The fire department isn’t far behind in the wages it pays. Records show 31 firemen earned more than $100,000 in 2011, totaling $3.3 million in salary. Another 42 earned more than $90,000, taking in a collective $3.97 million. Again, a larger number of firefighters – 66 – earned more than $80,000 annually, taking in $5.5 million in combined wages.
In all, the fire department is slated to pay out $22 million in wages this year, with the average worker earning slightly less than $80,000.
Wages paid to first responders in Boise are significantly higher than anywhere else in the state. A 2011 statewide wage study by the Idaho Department of Labor says the average patrol officer earns about $43,000 annually, while supervisors can bring in as much $66,872. The study also shows the average firefighter in Idaho makes about $34,000 each year, while supervisors typically bring in about $62,000.