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Medford police, fire chiefs up for raise

At its Thursday meeting, Medford City Council will consider a 7.5-percent raise for Police Chief Tim George and a 5-percent raise for Fire Chief Brian Fish in response to a recent study of wage distribution within both departments.

In comparable jurisdictions throughout the Pacific Northwest, police and fire chiefs make an average of 15 percent more than their next in command. George and Fish currently make less than 7 percent more than their deputy chiefs, explained Human Resources Director Mike Snyder

(name corrected from earlier version).

If approved, George’s base salary would increase from $115,104 to $124,397 retroactive to July 2014, while Fish’s salary would increase from $108,732 to $114,169 retroactive to August 2014, when he was appointed chief of Medford Fire-Rescue.

Pending the council’s decision, City Manager Eric Swanson also will approve 5-percent raises for police sergeants, lieutenants and deputy chiefs, as well as fire battalion and deputy chiefs retroactive to July 2014. Those supervisory employees received a 2.5-percent cost-of-living increase last July, as well.

The proposed salary increases would cost the police department about $92,000 this year and the fire department about $38,200.

The problem is that management increases haven’t kept up with union increases, so there is no incentive for employees to seek a promotion, said Snyder.

“In the last year, there have been two different promotional opportunities (in the police department),” he said. “At the first opportunity, only two people submitted applications, and at the second opportunity, only one person submitted an application.”

The same is true of the fire department where, currently, a battalion chief makes only half a percent more than the fire captain, who belongs to a collective bargaining unit.

“You have to look at wages internally and externally,” said Swanson. “Right now, we’re in the middle compared to other cities of comparable size, but in terms of internal equity and the positions as they relate to the folks they supervise, that is out of whack.”

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_m