Osseo City Council Votes to Increase Firefighter Pay
The Osseo City Council voted this week to increase pay for firefighters, addressing a concern some council members had about recruitment and retention efforts.
Paid-on-call firefighters will see their pay increase to $17 per hour, a $2-per-hour increase over what was originally proposed.
Council member Juliana Hultstrom began sharing her concerns after pulling an item for 2023 pay increases from the consent agenda, matters that are typically routine and approved without discussion.
“When I see this as a whole, and I see someone mowing the grass, or sitting at the farmers market is making more than our firefighters, I in my conscience and heart of hearts, I’m telling you, I can’t pass it,” said Hultstrom.
The consent agenda also included two firefighters who turned in their resignations, something Hulstrom also pointed out.
“This council has to start taking certain things seriously, and I feel this is one of the places it needs to start,” Hulstrom said.
Increases for Osseo city staff in 2023 are 7.4 percent, a cost-of-living adjustment determined by a regional consumer price index, city documents show. Osseo City Administrator Riley Grams said firefighters would not receive the cost-of-living adjustment, but rather higher increases that he and Fire Chief Mike Phenow felt would make the city more attractive to firefighters. Grams mentioned the increases would put Osseo “more in the middle” compared to other cities.
The $2-per-hour increase adds about $13,000 to the city’s budget, Grams said, which wouldn’t significantly alter the city’s budget.
Property Taxes Jump for Single-Family Homes
Along with the increase in firefighter pay, the Osseo City Council approved its 2023 budget and tax levy. City officials also detailed the property tax impact on homeowners, which are picking up a larger share of city taxes due to significantly higher property values.
According to city data, the median value home in Osseo jumped to $282,000, an all-time high. Homeowners with that value can expect to see a 20.1 percent increase in city taxes, increasing from $1,306 last year to $1,569 in 2023.
“People are moving there and spending a lot of money to buy homes there, the downside is it just increases your property taxes,” said Grams. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
Grams pointed out that the city’s tax rate will drop to 52.46% in 2023, the lowest the city has seen since 2013.