Arlington City Council to Discuss Contentious Firefighters Civil Service Plan

Arlington residents voted "yes" in May to establish a civil service system for its firefighters, who believed the approval vote was an effort to remove politics from the department's hiring, promotional and disciplinary actions.Now with a deadline to establish the new system about a month away, firefighters say that a city effort to cut some of their benefits amounts to retaliation for the ballot proposition.The City Council is scheduled to discuss implementing the civil service proposal -- which was approved by 54 percent of voters -- during a meeting Tuesday afternoon at City Hall. But the council will not take any action on benefits.Leaders with the Arlington Professional Fire Fighters Association say firefighters have agreed to pay for the estimated $587,000 it will cost to implement civil service through a voluntary reduction in some benefits. But they say the city is proposing additional benefit cuts that could include eliminating a 3 percent 401(k) match, along with the possible elimination of additional pay received by department specialists such as dive team and hazmat team members or bilingual firefighters."The city clearly stated, if we were successful [in the vote], that we would have to pay for it, and we haven't argued that," said David Crow, president of the firefighters association. "But the cost of civil service keeps changing."  Continue reading...

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