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Commentary: Firefighter Pay Has Her Hot Under the Collar

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 1, 2011

In 2009, the average firefighter for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District earned $122,000 a year. Let me repeat that - $122,000 a year. 13 fire district employees earned more than $200,000 that year.

Sac Metro fire fighters earn $32,000 more, on average, than firefighters for the city of Sacramento. They earn $40,000 more than the average Sacramento city police officer.

Why so much more? Unlike the city of Sacramento, Sac Metro is a stand-alone district, not part of a city or county. The firefighters' union pretty much controls the board, and dictates salaries.

In the city of Sacramento the council has to weigh fire service against other public needs: police, parks, libraries, street repairs. No one special interest can control the board and dictate salaries.

The only way to bring salaries under control at Sac Metro is to dissolve the district and require firefighters there to compete with other public workers for a fair share of shrinking revenues. $122,000 a year is not fair. It's ridiculous.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.

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