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City makes latest compromise to firefighters public

Early voting starts Monday on a contract between El Paso and its firefighters.

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez reminded El Pasoans Tuesday “it’s going to cost you.”

The question is how much. Gonzalez made the city’s latest proposal public on Tuesday.

The fire union’s ballot proposal would cost the owner of the City’s average $124,000 home more than $57 over the next three years. The City proposal would have less than a five-dollar impact, while the City’s latest compromise offer would have more than a $30-dollar impact.

Most firefighters have the buy-up family plan. The City’s new offer would increase firefighter bi-weekly payments from $122 to $290 dollars later this year, growing to $358 in 2016, $447 in 2017 and $547 — equal to what El Paso police officers pay — by 2018.

The City is also offering a wellness plan to firefighters, that trims up to 150 dollars a month from that cost.

“We’re stepping up and saying, ‘Hey we believe in our firefighters and what they’ve said that they need to make this work,'” Gonzalez said. “It would cost $30.64 over a three year period.”

Joe Telles, president of the El Paso Firefighters Association responded: “The health insurance is the big sticking point and the dramatic increases that the city wants. We were never able to bargain off of that. They came in hard and stayed on that same percentage increase.”

Paul Thompson, vice president of Local 51, said firefighters are comfortable letting the public decide at the polls. But they will try to let El Paso’s nearly 800 firefighters vote on the the City’s latest proposal in the next 10 days.

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