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Vancouver’s 2024 budget sees increased spending on firefighter reclassification

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(The Center Square) – An 8% boost to Vancouver, Washington’s 2024 budget will see funds being used to adjust to the reclassification of more than 50 firefighters.

On Monday, the Vancouver City Council approved of the 8% increase to its 2023-2024 biennium budget, which now totals $2 billion. The city’s operating and capital expenditures included in the 2023 supplemental budget totals $150.4 million.

Out of the $150.4 million, the operating budget will see an increase of $87 million, with the remaining appropriation increase of $63.4 million going toward capital projects and supporting funding transfers.

The city categorizes $44.3 million out of the appropriated funds for operating expenditures as general, street and fire funds. The general fund will see $35.9 million added in 2024, and out of that, the fire fund will see $3.7 million added next year.

Extra funding for the city’s fire department will go towards the reclassification of 56 firefighters to fire engineers and other compensation changes consistent with the ratified 2023-2025 fire suppression contract.

Next year, fire protection engineers who are in their first year qualify for an annual salary of $105,516. If fire engineers make it to step eight in the pay scale as part of the fire suppression contract, they qualify for an annual salary of $130,404, according to the contract.

Prior to the 2024 supplemental budget approval on Monday, the Vancouver Fire Department had only one fire protection engineer. The position handles fire detection and mitigation. Fire protection engineers design safeguards that help in preventing and controlling the effects of fires.

The fire fund was established as a result of an agreement between Vancouver and Fire District 5 to provide fire services. Two fire departments were consolidated into the Vancouver Fire Department and its fire fund accounts for money received and expenditures made in providing fire services to the city and Fire District 5 service areas.

The Vancouver Fire Department serves a population equal to the second largest city in Washington state, according to the budget.

The fire fund in 2023-2024 was set at $154.8 million, when the biennium budget was originally adopted.

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