A sharply divided Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday approved a new three-year contract for firefighters that some members praised as saving the city money by shifting more pension costs onto workers but others criticized as including raises the city couldn’t afford.
Santa Rosa and its firefighters have reached a tentative, nearly three-year labor agreement calling for them to receive salary increases totaling 4.5 percent but also requiring them to pay 12 percent toward their pensions by 2015.
On the day that Susan Gorin will be sworn in as the new Sonoma County 1st District supervisor, her former colleagues on the Santa Rosa City Council will begin the politically delicate task of replacing her. Several key questions facing the council Tuesday will determine how they’ll go about filling the vacancy.
Santa Rosa’s police and firefighters deserve to have contract disputes settled by a third party, as long as the city can truly afford it. That was the determination Thursday of the panel exploring changes to the city’s by laws, which since 1996 have required public safety contract disputes to be settled by a panel of three arbitrators. The 21-member Charter Review Committee felt tweaking the arbitration process would be better than scrapping it altogether.