Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo commissioners change firefighter pay plan, vacactions

LARGO — Commissioners put to rest a long-running contract dispute between the city firefighters union and city management, voting in a split decision in favor of management on both major issues.

The votes eliminated a long-standing fire department raise system, called a step plan, in favor of a more traditional pay range (a 6-1 vote), and reduced standard vacation time (5-2).

According to assistant city manager Henry Schubert, the reductions were necessary for the city to remain financially flexible at a time when revenue to the city has been in decline and county fire rescue supplements are dwindling.

"As we are all painfully aware, our nation and our city are faced with difficult economic challenges … We cannot do business as usual just because it worked in the past," Schubert said.

Mayor Patricia Gerard, who voted in favor of management, said her decision was for the best interests of all Largo, not only its firefighters.

"As much as we love our firefighters, my responsibility is to be fair to every employee in the city. As far as we can tell — someone can try to argue me out of this one — the economy is not going to get better any time soon," Gerard said.

The dispute began last fall when city management refused to offer the raises and vacation time the firefighters asked for.

The parties reached an impasse in February, and brought in a special magistrate who issued a recommendation that split the difference between the city and union's positions on vacation and pay raises.

The union accepted the recommendation, the city did not, and the issue came before commissioners.

Commissioner Gigi Arntzen voted against cutting vacation time, but in favor of the new raise system. Robert Murray voted in favor of the union on both issues.

"By having a frozen step raise, it doesn't cost us anything for two years," Murray said. "I agree with the magistrate's recommendation."

Walter Dix, a representative for the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the step plan raise system should remain in place because it was the system used by other Pinellas fire departments.

Dix also argued that since Largo firefighters receive less vacation time than firefighters in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park, vacation days should not be reduced as much as the city wanted.

The union will now either ratify the contract offered by the city for three years, or be forced to accept it for one year.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or

Largo commissioners change firefighter pay plan, vacactions 08/31/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Yep, 2017 hurricane season really is more intense than normal


    It was only 25 days ago that Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

    A handout satellite image from Sept. 8, 2017, of, from left, Tropical Storm Katia, Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Jose, which would intensify into a hurricane. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been unusually active. There have been 13 named storms this year. Only four other seasons since 1995 have had that many by Sept. 18. [NASA/NOAA GOES Project via the New York Times]
  2. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs could run into their nemesis


    Greg Auman finishes wrapping up the Bucs' win against the Chicago Bears and looks ahead to Sunday's game at Minnesota, where Tampa Bay could run into nemesis Case Keenum, in our latest Cannon Fodder …

    Bucs outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) sacks Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) during a 2016 game. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. How to vamp out for Buffyfest in St. Petersburg

    Music & Concerts

    Who's your favorite superhero? I always answer Buffy.

    Photo illustration RON BORRESEN, Photo by Warner Brothers, Photo by SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
Members of the Florida Bjorkestra rehearse, Monday, 3/13/17, at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg for their upcoming concert. In the foreground is percussionist Joe Coyle.

Sarah Michelle Gellar
  4. The Mill restaurants offering half off when customers donate items for hurricane relief


    The Mill restaurant in St. Petersburg and its newly-opened location in Brandon are collecting donations to help residents of the Florida Keys who've been affected by Hurricane Irma.

    The dining room at The Mill in St. Petersburg photographed in 2015.
  5. Navy removes Jacksonville hospital workers who called babies 'mini satans' (w/video)


    JACKSONVILLE — A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans."

    A Navy hospital in Florida has removed some employees from patient care after Snapchat photos showed a nurse giving the middle finger to a newborn with a caption that said, "How I currently feel about these mini Satans." [Photo from video]