Watertown officials approve city firefighters’ contract, hire grant writer

Watertown approves firefighters' contract, hires grant writer
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:37 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown has a tentative contract agreement with the union representing its firefighters.

The city council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the deal with the Watertown Professional Firefighters Association.

The union has been working without a contract since last July.

The tentative agreement covers from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2025.

It includes a retroactive pay raise of 4% going back to July 1 last year.

Firefighters will also get a 4% raise this July, and a 3.5% raise next July.

An EMT stipend firefighters receive will increase from $300 to $500.

The council also unanimously approved bringing on Labella Associates for grant writing services.

Five companies submitted proposals.

Labella will help the city look for funding opportunities for local development.

City planning and development director Mike Lumbis says Labella had extensive experience and a local presence that will help facilitate what the city may be looking for.

The company’s local representative, Hartley Bonisteel Schweitzer, says they want to hit the ground running.

“We want to be applying for grants that we are going to be competitive for,” she said, “and that I think is the big thing is, once we get this contract, we want to go to your department heads, we want to figure out what the issues are and better understand what the direct needs are.”

Schweitzer says the company already has four grants in mind and will add more as the city sees fit.