- The Portsmouth Fire Department has had the highest increases of any department – well over DOUBLE inflation over the past 15 years (1995/96-2009/10). From 1995/96-2009/10, the Fire Dept budget (mostly salary/personnel costs) went UP 112%. Inflation for these same years was 47%.
- Go HERE to see the last 15 years of astronomical Fire Department increases. Most every year council has given the fire department well over inflation increases and increases to salaries. Average pay for a Firefighter in 2009 was $70,721 plus hefty benefits. Here are the Fire Dept. 2009 Salaries in detail – the column to the right are their true earnings. Source: Portsmouth City Budget and information provided by City Manager Bohenko. Contrast this with $66K for a civil lawyer salary in Portsmouth NH. http://www.cbsalary.com/salary-calculator/chart/Lawyer+Civil/NH/Portsmouth?kw=Lawyer+Civil&jn=JN030&tid=41916
- Council made a cut of $14,265 last year (2011/12 budget) to the fire department which has a $6.7 million dollar budget.
- The Portsmouth Professional Fire Officers Association contract expired in June 2008. While officers have not received COLA, the city for no reason determined yet, has decided to pay them STEP RAISES and other compensations. The union has opted to refuse to remove themselves from the NH Local Government center’s highly expensive insurance plan.
- Council has absolutely no obligation to pay for insurance for Firefighters. Firefighters currently will not move out of the expensive NH Local Government Center insurance to the lower cost insurance offered by the city. The NH Local Government Center acts as an insurance pool funded by public employees and taxpayers. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire has been battling the NH Local Government Center in court alleging it owes over $100 million in surplus funds it was required by law to rebate. Why aren’t the Portsmouth Firefighters leading the change to get out of the NHLGC?
- With calls made to several insurance brokers, we found that home owners insurance will not go up with the closing of a fire station or the loss of an ambulance.
- Assess the true need for personnel.
- Ask for bids from private Fire/EMT companies. Just having those figures alone would be an extremely valuable comparison. Consider augmenting the Fire Department with volunteer fire department personal, like many other towns.
- The Fire Department is not hired to conduct advertising to advocate for it’s positions. It handed out flyers advertising the closing of Station 3 and has initiated an aggressive campaign.
TUES 17 Jan: City council initial vote on Fire Department overspending requests.
BELOW ARE COMPARISONS TO OTHER NH TOWNS AND CITIES
For the population density and land area, Portsmouth has a disproportionately high number of stations in towns greater than 18,000 residents.
towns - Click this for links to sources of the above chart.