Village OKs salary hikes for fire staff

Board approves $9,700 increase shared by chiefs
Ozaukee Press Staff

After several months of discussion, top Grafton Fire Department staff members will receive raises to make their salaries more comparable to those of other area chiefs.

Last month, three village trustees voted against approving the 2021 budget, which narrowly passed, because it did not address salary increases for Fire Chief Bill Rice and Division Chief Matthew Karpinski.

The dissenting trustees were Lisa Harbeck, Amy Luft and Jim Miller.   

However, during Monday’s Village Board meeting, trustees unanimously approved a total wage increase of $9,700 to be divided between the chiefs. Before the meeting, the Finance Committee recommended the board approve the increase, which was requested by Rice on behalf of himself and Karpinski.

“We saw changes in the major demand of staff,” Village President Jim Brunnquell said, noting the fire department has taken on additional responsibilities by handling calls for neighboring communities as well as administrative duties for the Village of Saukville Fire Department.

Trustee Tom Krueger voted to approve the wage adjustment but said he was concerned the action could set a precedent for other village employees. “We can’t give pay increases because they are busy,” he said.

Other trustees said they supported the increase because it will help retain personnel.

Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said the salaries will be retroactively adjusted as of Nov. 15.

Thyes said that among other Ozaukee County communities, the City of Cedarburg fire chief makes $106,000 annually and the City of Mequon chief is paid $127,000.

Before their raises, Rice’s annual salary was $95,570, and Karpinski was paid $79,209.

During the meeting, Rice asked the board to consider changing Karpinski’s title to assistant chief because he has taken on more responsibilities.

Thyes said the Finance Committee can review Karpinski’s job description to determine the appropriate job title.

“The title doesn’t impact the pay grade,” Thyes said. 



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