Ogden firefighters to get 14% pay increase in proposed property tax hike
OGDEN, Utah — Ogden City is considering a property tax hike to give all employees pay raises. The fire department would get the biggest raise.
Mayor Mike Caldwell said the pay raises are needed to put Ogden on par with the pay offered at other local governments around the Wasatch Front.
Firefighters would get the largest raise because it is far behind what other Utah fire departments offer.
That has caused retention and hiring challenges in most city departments.
“We thought it was really important that we took everything else off the budget agenda and just said our employees really matter,” Caldwell said.
He added that the pandemic and a drop in sales tax revenues take a lot of the blame for city pay falling behind.
While the raises would come in across the board, economic development could also get several new employees to help with growth and redevelopment projects in Ogden.
Caldwell said, “We’re going to need more hands to help with that and to help guide and direct that. And so we recognize that that’s a critical part of what we’re doing in Ogden City.”
If it’s all approved, police would get three new employees and the fire department would get a total of six new firefighters.
Fire Chief Mike Matheiu said, “Sometimes what we all the equity of coverage for this downtown station is not as good as it needs to be.”
He added that calls for service in the downtown area have shot up nearly 80% over the past decade.
“And so other stations are having to come to fill in for when the other engine is busy on other calls,” he said.
The new employees would help with that. But Matheiu said the department as a whole is well behind the pay coming from others along the Wasatch Front.
“We’re not only losing firefighters to other departments, but the other thing that’s happening this last year, year and a half, is we’re losing them to the private sector,” he said
Firefighters could get a 14% raise, police would see 8%, and remaining employees about 13%.
It all depends on whether the people of Ogden will be willing to pay up.
Caldwell said, “These are really hard things to do. They’re really hard community conversations. I’m proud that our community is willing to have those.”
The proposal adds up to about a $2.8 million dollar budget increase.
The city council approved it initially, but it’s still got to go through the state tax commission and then a truth in taxation hearing in July.
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