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West Allis officials differ on whether fire chiefs' raises are too hot to handle

Dec. 4, 2012

West Allis - During the Common Council's 2013 budget deliberations, Alderman Vincent Vitale strongly criticized a plan to give raises of $8,000 to $10,000 to two of the four assistant fire chiefs whose titles would change but whose jobs wouldn't.

"To me, that's totally insane," Vitale said.

Vitale also noted that the supervisor raises were both unfair to taxpayers, many of whom haven't seen even a 1 percent raise, and to unions that have given concessions.

But Fire Chief Steven Hook said the assistant chiefs have waited years for the pay to which they should get, based on their responsibilities.

Pay for nonunionized positions is determined mathematically by a consultant. The firm evaluates each nonunionized employee position on the basis of supervisory responsibilities, freedom to act, authority, expertise and human resource skills required and other factors, Hook said.

Each factor gets a number and the numbers are basically added up and pay rates determined, he said.

Ten years ago, when the department was reorganized and the command staff was flattened, the numbers for the four assistant chiefs became the same as for battalion chiefs because everything was in flux at the time, Hook said.

As changes in the department took place in succeeding years, the four assistant chiefs were not re-evaluated, he said, although the department had every intention of doing so.

Two years ago, that re-evaluation took place. As a result, it was decided the assistant chiefs of operations and emergency medical services would become deputy chiefs and the assistant chiefs of training and fire prevention would become bureau heads, Hook said.

The raises should follow the title changes, Hook said.

A salary ordinance will be introduced to the Common Council soon, he added.

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