Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Tinley Park trustees have approved a new pay plan for village firefighters, revamping a salary system that had been proposed this spring. For the largely part-time force, the five-step plan would offer 2% pay hikes for each step starting with fiscal year 2021. The original plan considered earlier this year proposed a 10-step plan that raised concerns over its costs. The new pay plan is intended to help Tinley Park stay competitive as far as retaining and attracting firefighters. With an eye toward the villageā€™s fire department ultimately providing paramedic services, the plan offers pay incentives for firefighters who receive certification as emergency medical technicians. Tinley Park now uses Kurtz Ambulance for paramedic services.

The salary schedule approved by the Village Board Tuesday is estimated to cost the village $3.15 million over 10 years compared with the estimated $4.4 million cost of the original plan.

Firefighters have limited opportunities for pay hikes, which the new plan is intended to correct. Right now, personnel see pay increases once they complete their one-year probationary period or upon promotion, or through village board action in approving annual market wage adjustments.

For the current fiscal year, which began May 1, firefighters received cost-of-living increases of 2.5%. The fire chief, deputy chief, and assistant chiefs would see pay raises based on merit, according to the plan. Certified probationary firefighters would be eligible, based on performance, for a pay bump after 60 days, going from $15.70 an hour to $18.76. Fire department staff, excluding assistant chief and deputy chief positions, with more than 20 years of service would automatically move up one pay step once the plan is implemented.

In the first three to four years of the pay plan, savings from not relying on Kurtz for emergency medical dispatch are expected to free up funds to pay for raises. Down the road, the village may have to consider raising ambulance fees to support the pay plan.

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