BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County formally approved a new contract with firefighters, which calls for a 3 percent raise and a 10 percent increase in benefit dollars.
The three-year contract will cost the county about $591,708 and will come out of reserves.
The negotiated contract will affect all firefighters in the county, including those in Spring Hill, who merged with the county department in October 2012.
Among the highlights of the new contract:
? The county can now request employees use their health insurance for follow-up referrals or testing needed as a result of a physical and will cover their deductible.
? The district chiefs reverted back from the current paid time-off policy to one that separates sick and vacation days off.
? The number of vacation hours that can be paid out when an employee leaves is capped at 640, or 80 days.
? The number of carryover sick hours was reduced from 880 to 640.
? A 3 percent cost of living increase will be granted for the first year of the contract, which will be paid retroactive to Sept. 30.
Former Spring Hill Fire Commissioner Bob Kanner called it a "fair contract."
"In this day and age, I believe all employees need to get some sort of increase to help them cope with the cost of living increase that's going on all around us," said Kanner, now the deputy chief of the High Point Volunteer Fire Department.
The firefighters union had already voted 156-11 to accept the contract.