Creating a new rank of firefighters and a new rank of police officers is likely to cost the city at least $560,000, but the full budgetary impact of the new positions is unknown, according to a report released today by the city’s Independent Budget Analyst.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this story about the creation of the new rank at the Fire-Rescue Department called a Firefighter III. I also took a look at the Police Department’s creation of a position called a Police Officer III.

Neither of those two positions were mentioned in the mayor’s initial fiscal year 2010 budget, despite the fact that each person promoted into the new rank will receive a 5 percent pay raise. The backdoor pay raises also come at a time when the mayor and the City Council have been talking tough on public sector pay.

The IBA settled on the $560,000 figure based on the Police Department’s request to promote 15 people to Police Officer IIIs and the Fire Department’s stated intention to create one new Firefighter III for each shift in each of the city’s fire stations (a total of about 140 positions).

But the report notes that the Police Department could choose to promote more officers to the higher rank, and one of the things I’ve pointed out is that there has been no limit set on how many police officers or firefighters could be promoted to the new positions. In theory, there’s nothing to stop the Fire Department and the Police Department slowly promoting all of their Firefighter IIs and Police Officer IIs into the new rank, which would cost the city millions of dollars annually.

Incidentally, I’m still waiting for the city’s Personnel Department to provide me with evidence that it spent a year or so analyzing why the city needs to create the new position of Firefighter III. You may remember this post I wrote about the department’s two-page report that was used as justification for the need for the position.

Personnel Director Hadi Dehghani told me that two of his analysts spent months calling other cities, meeting with fire personnel and conducting research into the necessity of the position. I requested all of the analysts’ notes from those meetings. I haven’t received them yet.


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