After delays, the Jefferson Parish Council approves raises for the East Jefferson firefighters _lowres

Advocate staff photo by REBECCA RATLIFF -- John Young, President of Jefferson Parish

The firefighters who protect most of Metairie and Old Jefferson will see a roughly 9 percent raise in their pay starting in July. It will be retroactive to January.

The Jefferson Parish Council approved the raise Wednesday following months of back-and-forth negotiations between the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department and the parish.

The two sides agreed on the terms of the new pay plan in December, but then the process got hung up because of a union-requested review of whether roughly 30 parish employees who perform firefighting-related duties should be classified as members of the department.

Parish President John Young’s administration wanted to wait until that review was completed to find out exactly how much the raise would cost. The firefighters, on the other hand, didn’t see the point of making the rank-and-file wait for their raises while the question was answered.

The parish ended up calculating roughly what it thinks the inquiry will find in terms of added cost and moved ahead with the pay boost, and dozens of firefighters broke into applause Wednesday morning as the council passed the raise unanimously.

Exact figures are not available, but the plan calls for a first-year firefighter’s base pay to jump from about $22,950 to about $25,035, not counting state supplemental pay and guaranteed overtime.

The pay increase will be retroactive to the beginning of 2015 because that is when the agreement was made in principle.

The plan will cost the parish about $3.5 million the first year and about $1 million per year afterward.

Councilman Elton Lagasse asked the administration to look into what it would take to give all parish employees a 5 percent raise. He said his earlier comments that he didn’t want to see only the firefighters get a raise were misconstrued as meaning he opposed their pay hike.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.