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Fountain Valley boosts pay schedule for public safety employees

Fountain Valley City Hall.
The Fountain Valley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution updating the city’s salary schedule after reopening contract negotiations following a total compensation study within Orange County.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley has taken a step toward providing more competitive pay for the city’s public safety employees.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution updating the city’s salary schedule after reopening contract negotiations following a total compensation study within Orange County.

The Fountain Valley Fire Fighters Assn. is set to see 1% increases in base pay for three consecutive years. The base pay of a Fountain Valley battalion or division chief will go up 0.5% for the current year and 1% in each of the two years that follow.

All four public safety employee groups will see a bump in pay tied to their years of service to incentivize retention.

The Fountain Valley Firefighters Assn., the city’s individually represented battalion and division chiefs, the Fountain Valley Police Officers Assn. and the Fountain Valley Peace Officers Management Unit each had a memorandum of understanding with the city pertaining to wages, hours and conditions of employment.

The memorandums were approved in June of last year with the expectation that a total compensation study against average market value would take place. The study looked at the pay and benefits of those positions as compared with 20 Orange County cities and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The reported findings showed that all four employee groups were around 12% or more below the labor market value.

Adjustments made due to consideration of the study were capped at 4% per year for a maximum adjusted rate of 12% over the life of the current three-year memorandums.

“The contract negotiations went on a very long time, and I mostly want to thank our employees,” Councilman Glenn Grandis said, adding that he believed it would raise morale among those employees. “Those that have stuck it out and have been woefully underpaid for a number of years are now going to get to the average of the county.”

The city accounted for impending salary schedule adjustments in its budget, so no additional appropriations were requested for the current fiscal year.

In the past, Fountain Valley had utilized the average total compensation of the market in its labor agreements, city officials said in a staff report, but the city broke away from that model in negotiations when it underwent financial hardship due to economic downturn in 2008.

“I think attracting and retaining quality employees is so important,” Mayor Patrick Harper said. “The work of the city does not happen by itself. It takes over 200 dedicated employees who care about our city. It’s so important that we provide them fair and equitable compensation.”

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