North Las Vegas firefighters agree to defer 3.5% cost-of-living raises

North Las Vegas' firefighter union has agreed to defer a 3.5 percent annual cost-of-living increase to save the financially strapped city money, officials said Monday.

The 202 firefighters represented by the International Association of Firefighters Local 1607 voted last week on the concessions, which also include cutting firefighter uniform allowances from about $800 a year to about $400 and deferring sick leave "sell-back" for a year.

Employees have the option of selling back to the city a portion of their unused sick leave each year.

Pending City Council approval, the raises will be deferred to later years.

The firefighters' contract with the city, which expires in mid-2012, will be extended two years as part of the agreement.

"I am proud to announce that our members overwhelmingly supported and passed these measures," Jeff Hurley, president of the union, said in a city press release.

The city is in the midst of a hiring freeze and has trimmed about $16 million from its 2008-09 budget. The city hopes to soon wrap up similar negotiations with its Teamsters and police unions.

City officials said delaying or eliminating employees' cost-of-living raises will save the city about $13.5 million.

Employees' separate annual "step" raise will not be affected.

The city initiated the talks, which began in late February, as a way to save money in the face of declining tax revenue caused by the economic slowdown.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis or 702-383-0285.