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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Marion seeks $21 million contract to address firefighter recruitment and retention

Marion County’s negotiation team has tentatively agreed to a $21 million contract with the fire union that aims to address Marion County Fire Rescue’s recruitment and retention issues.

On June 2, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Freedom First budget for State Fiscal Year 2022-2023. This budget provided over $600 million in funding to the Agency for Health Care Administration for the sole purpose of increasing the minimum wage for employees of Medicaid providers to at least $15 an hour.

Shortly after this change became effective on October 1, 2022, Marion County and the fire union began negotiations to evaluate the impact that this change will have on the fire department’s pay structure.

On Tuesday, May 23, after months of negotiations, the county’s negotiation team tentatively agreed to a three-year, $21 million dollar contract. This agreement will next be presented to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners for formal approval.

According to the county, the amended contract looks to address MCFR’s recruitment and retention issues by raising the starting pay across all positions while implementing a loyalty incentive program, an annual 2% cost of living adjustment, and an annual 2% education incentive. Under this contract, paramedics would also receive an additional 3% increase on October 1, 2023.

“The firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics are extremely important to our community,” stated Craig Curry, Chairman of the Marion County Commission. “Recruitment and retention are a big part of that. We feel that this contract addresses both of those needs.”

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners meets at 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the McPherson Governmental Campus auditorium, which is located at 601 SE 25th Avenue in Ocala.