Big paychecks for California firefighters

Firefighters in California take home some pretty big bucks.  In the East Bay city of San Ramon, firefighters made as much as $400,000 in total compensation in 2015.

According to watchdog group Transparent California, more than half of the San Ramon Valley Fire District full-time employees make more than $300,000 a year.

Jake Weir from the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association asks:

“Does it make sense that a battalion chief in San Ramon should earn $300,000…when our governor only earns $180,000…and our President only earns $400,000.”

But San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Paige Meyer says $300,000 doesn't tell the whole story.

He says firefighters actually take home about half of their total compensation because the rest of that money goes to their pension and benefits.

He says taxpayers are actually saving money.  He says its cheaper to pay a firefighter overtime, rather than hire someone new, because of the extra benefit and pension costs attached to that new hire.

Sure you might be saving money now, but how long can you sustain this?  Soon we'll reach the point where cities won't even be able to afford the overtime, and they'll have to start cutting basic services.

Read more at CBS San Francisco and the New York Times.

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