The outcome of Clark County firefighters’ vote on a proposed labor contract change remained a mystery Friday.
County leaders’ inquiries with the Fire Department turned up nothing about the results from three days of voting among union firefighters at 40 stations. The union’s leader, Ryan Beaman, did not return calls seeking comment.
Firefighters were voting on whether to accept a proposal to reduce their cost-of-living raises to 2 percent, from the 3 percent that went into effect July 1. In return, they would get two more vacation days and have their labor contract extended two years to mid-2012.
The firefighters also would forgo a “security program” that some describe as fire station fencing, freeing $4 million in capital money to be spent elsewhere.
It’s unclear whether the vote is formal or simply a straw poll to gauge firefighters’ sentiments.
County Manager Virginia Valentine, who met with Beaman in June, said in an e-mail Friday that he never gave her a copy of what the members were voting on.
“I expected to see a proposal reflecting some of what we discussed the last time I met with him,” Valentine wrote.
Beaman could take the proposal directly to the Commission at the Aug. 4 meeting, she said.
County management doesn’t plan to recommend it to commissioners, said Don Burnette, the county’s chief administrative officer.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak has criticized the offer, saying the county gains nothing. The $1.2 million in savings from the reduced pay raise would be negated by adding two vacation days at a cost of $1.3 million, he said.
“There’s no concession,” he said.
About 300 firefighters are on the wage scale that tops out at $76,000.
Half are eligible for yearly 6 percent step increases along with 3 percent cost-of-living raises, totaling a 9 percent wage increase. The other half, who have topped out, receive only cost-of-living raises.
Recently, firefighters were given an additional 1.75 percent raise to cover increased contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System.
Burnette said the only way the $4 million from the security fence could help the county is if it were used to cover a Fire Department project that’s being paid for with money in the general fund, such as a fire station.
The general fund dollars could then be diverted to other services, he said, adding that staff has found no way to do that.
Commissioner Susan Brager said she worries that the union’s proposal could cost the county more money at a dire time.
She said she feels warmly toward firefighters, recalling how they rescued her when her body was wedged between two cars, and had several bones broken, after a drunken driver struck her.
But firefighters must be willing to give a little, she said.
“We need to really look at it,” she said. “I hope we can have some real dialogue.”
Contact reporter Scott Wyland at email@example.com or 702-455-4519.