Westerville firefighters will get a 3-percent raise in each of the next three years, according to an agreement approved by city council last week.

Westerville firefighters will get a 3-percent raise in each of the next three years, according to an agreement approved by city council last week.

The three-year agreement with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3480, approved unanimously by Westerville City Council on July 20, is retroactive to January 2010 and provides for a 3-percent base salary increase through 2012, said Adam Maxwell, director of administrative services.

The contract doesn't include any changes to the step system.

"With the increases, at the end of the contract, they (collectively) will have earned $750,000 more than they currently are now," Maxwell said.

The contract covers the 80 members of the Westerville Professional Firefighters union.

Fire division salaries and benefits for union members cost the city about $8-million a year, he said.

A three-year contract with such a bargaining unit is standard, Maxwell said, but the firefighters did have a six-month extension approved in 2007.

"(It was) simply to align them with the calendar year," Maxwell said. "Their contract now runs from January through December."

Negotiations on the new contract lasted seven months, with the firefighters working under the terms of the old contract until the new one was ratified last week.

The new contract also includes increased contributions to the firefighters' health savings accounts. The old contract specified that the city would contribute $2,250 to the HSAs. Under the terms of the new contract, that amount increases to $3,000 this year and $3,600 in 2011 and 2012.

Other changes to the terms of the contract were procedural, Maxwell said.

"Both sides worked well to make some non-economic improvements to the contract - the use of leave times, improvements to the Family and Medical Leave Act provisions of the contract," he said.

The contract does not include plans for any growth in the overall size of Westerville's firefighting force, Maxwell said.

"We have a five-year budget plan and there are no new full-time firefighters proposed," he said.