The hiring of eight new firefighters through a safer grant is helping curb overtime.
For years the overtime budgets for both the Police Department and the Fire Department have been underfunded, leaving a deficit that needs to be made up at the close of the fiscal year every year. This year, however, the city won a federal grant to bring on eight new firefighters and with that, overtime had dropped dramatically.
The Police Department needs some $740,000 to cover a deficit in overtime.
This shouldn't have been much of a surprise to the City Council when it was brought before them on Tuesday because during the budget hearings last year, the chief told the councilors the line was woefully underfunded. Just two months into the fiscal year, the department had already gone through a third of the budgeted $600,000 for scheduled overtime and a quarter of the $40,000 special investigations line.
"We've got some guys who are getting older ... but we have a committed staff," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "But they have a lot of time ... all you need is three to call in sick."
Seniority-driven sick and vacation time, along with employees out with injuries continues to take a toll on overtime.
"We have an aging workforce and our average age is 45, 47," said Fire Director Stephen Meranti. Police Director Michael Cozzaglio said his department is preparing for rash of retirements in t
The city expects to end the fiscal year without having to dip into reserves despite a bump in overtime costs for the police and fire departments.
Treasurer David Fierro Jr. informed the Finance Committee last week during a review of the final months of fiscal 2016 that police and fire salaries are over budget for this year at a combined $225,000 because of greater than anticipated injuries on duty and overtime.