It has caused a drop in morale for the
city's four assistant chiefs, and in at least one case will result
in a union member, a Lincoln Fire Department captain, earning more
than his superior, an assistant chief.
The city's three assistant fire chiefs
and its assistant police chief aired their dissatisfaction over the
wage freeze to the city's finance committee Monday evening.
The assistant fire chiefs, Mark Miller,
Tom Martin and Steve Dahm, distributed printed comparisons of the
pay of firefighters, who are union members, and of assistant chiefs,
who are considered management. The printout also showed a comparison
of the salary of an assistant chief compared with that of a captain
with 21 years of seniority. The rank of captain is next highest to
Union firefighters get extra pay for
Emergency Medical Service, longevity and overtime, as well as $2,000
a year for additional education, according to the fact sheet. At
this time, assistant chiefs do not get any of these benefits, Miller
said, and they have also seen a cut in their vacation days after 20
years of service.
Although assistant chiefs were never
members of the union, at one time they did get extra pay for EMS and
overtime, Martin said.
"Because of the pay increases [for the
unions], we make just $94 a month more than some captains do,"
Miller said. Three hours of overtime for the captains would make the
pay the same, he said.
"In May, the captains will be making
more than we do," Martin added. Specifically, he said, in May a
captain with 21 years of experience will be making $23 per month more than an
assistant chief, even without the overtime pay a captain is entitled
"When we get passed up for a raise, it
doesn't seem fair," Miller added. "There's no incentive to take the
test for assistant chief. Maybe we should ask for a demotion."
"The last administration took our
overtime away from us," Dahm said. "That hurts morale. We are asking
you guys to do the right thing."
The "right thing," the assistant fire
chiefs said, would be a 5 percent raise now, 3 percent to keep up
with the union and 2 percent to restore the EMS pay, as they also go
out on EMS calls.
During the bargaining process last
fall, union firefighters won a total raise of 9.75 percent over
three years. The first 3 percent raise was made retroactive to May
of 2002. In May of 2003, the beginning of the city's fiscal year,
they will get a 3.25 percent raise. In May of 2004 they will get 3.5
"You negotiate with the unions, but you
don't even talk to us," Harley Mullins, assistant police chief, told
the committee. "We read in the newspapers that we're not getting a
"You are willing to pay an attorney
$125 an hour to fight a water rate hike," he added. "Part of my pay
raise is going somewhere else." He said he would like to see all
department heads get a raise of $125 a month.
Mullins also asked if assistant chiefs
would get a raise of 7 percent next year to make up for the raise
they didn't get this year. "Is the 3 percent gone forever?" he
[to top of second column in
Alderman Verl Prather, present chairman
of the finance committee, pointed out that the city is in a serious
financial bind. Because of the economic downturn, Lincoln, like most
other municipalities, has had to make deep budget cuts and is
looking at a budget deficit of $300,000 to $400,000 for the coming
year. The city tried to pass a sales tax increase of 0.5 percent in
November, but voters turned it down.
Prather said that because of lagging
state payments of income tax receipts the city would have trouble
finding money for operating expenses when the next fiscal year
begins in May.
"We've even discussed layoffs. That's
still an option. We are not trying to buffalo anybody about the lack
of money," he said. He said the finance committee will meet to
discuss the request for a pay raise sometime soon.
In other business, meeting in regular
session, the council passed two ordinances. One rezones the property
at 1028 Broadway from R-2 (residential) to C-2 (commercial). The
property is owned by Board Enterprises and was formerly a dry
cleaning establishment but was never zoned commercial.
The council also approved adding
Woodlawn Road property owned by J & S Auto to the enterprise zone
and giving owner Jim Horn a real estate tax abatement. Horn is
moving his business from Logan Street to the new location, next to
the Kroger store, property formerly owned by the Buelter family.
The council accepted a grant of $10,000
for the Sesquicentennial Committee and approved putting yields signs
on both sides of 19th Street where it intersects with Oglesby.
They also agreed that the city would
take over a 7.5-mile stretch of Fifth Street Road west of Lincoln
Parkway that is presently under the jurisdiction of the Illinois
Department of Transportation. IDOT will pay the city $189,000 to
upgrade and maintain the road. Street Superintendent Don Osborne
said he thought that was the best offer the city was going to get
from IDOT and recommended accepting it. He said the city already
maintains that area of Fifth Street.
The council voted not to take down a
crab apple tree in front of the Tarter Brothers property on Broadway
Street until a landscape design currently under way for the downtown
area is finished.
Steve Fuhrer announced that on Jan. 22
at 7:15 p.m. a question-and-answer session on the sales tax issue
will be held at Friendship Manor. Everyone is welcome to attend. He
also said that anyone who wants to make donations to a fund to
promote the 0.5 percent increase in the city sales tax may do so.
Donations may be made to Citizens for the City Sales Tax Increase.
He said District 27 Superintendent Bob Kidd has volunteered to be
treasurer for the committee. The city itself cannot spend money to
promote the tax increase, and aldermen have discussed making
contributions themselves to help get information out to voters. The
tax increase failed in the November election but is needed, city
officials say, to provide funds for road repair.
city council had two meetings Monday, a committee-of-the-whole
meeting postponed from Dec. 24 and a regular voting session, Prather
moved to waive the $50 pay aldermen would normally receive for the
committee meeting. The council unanimously agreed.