Worthington's 34 firefighters will receive 3-percent raises for each of the next three years, according to a new collective bargaining agreement approved by Worthington City Council last week.

Worthington's 34 firefighters will receive 3-percent raises for each of the next three years, according to a new collective bargaining agreement approved by Worthington City Council last week.

The new contract, which is effect retroactive to Jan. 1, 2009, also covers changes in the cost of health insurance and limits overtime costs by managing the number of firefighters allowed to be off at any time.

This year's raise is equal to that of non-union city employees, but is less than the 3.75-percent raises granted to police officers this year. The police are in the final year of a three-year contract.

Firefighters also receive step increases, but only for the first four years of employment. All but five of the 27 regular firefighters/paramedics will receive the step four salary of $59,285.

A beginning firefighter's salary will be $44,000.

Also included in the contract are four lieutenants with 2009 salaries of $66,399 and three captains, whose salaries are $73,039.

City finance director Steve Gandee did not know on Tuesday afternoon how much the contract would cost the city.

A raise for firefighters was not included in the 2009 budget.

Gandee will present a supplemental appropriation to cover the cost at Monday's council meeting.

Like other city employees, firefighters will change from paying a fixed rate for health insurance to paying a percentage of the premium. The contribution will be 8 percent in 2009 and 2010 and 9 percent in 2011.

The cost will be $34.51 a month this year for a single, down from $40 a month last year.

The cost for a family will be $88.53, up from $80 last year.

To help keep the cost of overtime under control, the number of firefighters allowed to be off at any time will be limited to two, beginning in 2010.

There are 12 full-time firefighters and one part-time firefighter on duty during each shift. The minimum staffing requirement will be 11.