Avon

Avon city employees were under budget for overtime in 2009, and heads of the most overtime-intensive departments are working to cut those hours even further.

In 2009, $394,193.97 was spent on overtime for city of Avon employees.

The police and fire departments accumulated the bulk of that expenditure. The Avon Police Department staff of 40 had 5,869 hours, totaling $191,892.50 in overtime, while the 29 Avon Fire Department employees had 6,746 hours with a total of  $149,370.30. Both departments were under budget for the year.

The police department scrutinizes its overtime, Police Chief Paul Romond said.

“There are some things that we are doing to ensure that that doesn’t go over (budget),” Romond said. “When we get subpoenas from court, we try to make sure the case is active and not discontinued.”

At the Nov. 19 budget hearing, Police Capt. Richard Bosley said “30 percent of their overtime budget is being exhausted in court time for officers.”

Bosley said prosecutors are telling their employees to subpoena every name on the list so there are officers being called into court when they don’t need to be.

“If an officer gets called in on his day off, he gets an automatic four hours of overtime,” Romond said in a recent interview.

The increase in subpoenas became more noticeable over the last year, Romond said.

“We are paying a lot of overtime out for cases that weren’t going out to trial,” he said.

During the November meeting, Bosley estimated the department could trim $20,000 to $30,000 if the subpoena issue could be resolved.

Romond said the most typical situation that requires overtime is parades.

“We have all kinds of festivities throughout the year,” Romond said, adding events like the Duct Tape Festival and Memorial Day parade call for more manpower, which contributes to overtime.

“Sometimes it is just plain necessary to do that,” he said.

During budget hearings in November, Fire Chief Frank Root said some language in the firefighter contracts called for the city to pay firefighters more.

“We have remedied a lot of it, but if they work all their shifts, they get four hours overtime,” Root said, according to Nov. 19 meeting minutes.

“Their wages are based on 51.7 hours in a week, which is 103.4 in a two-week pay period and the second pay period of the month, we add up their monthly time and if they are over 206.8, it is overtime, with any time that they work,” Assistant Finance Director June Mitchell said at the meeting.

Root said the language in the contracts needs to be ironed out.

“It was enough that I had to increase our overtime budget a little at the end of the year,” he said of the cost in a recent interview. “It wasn’t a tremendous amount, but it was there.”

Toward the end of 2009, Root said the fire department was “falling beyond our overtime budget.”

To keep overtime under control, some changes were made.

“In October, we dropped our staffing level from six to five (full-time firefighters),” he said. “That still allows me to get two rigs out the door. I’ll still supplement that with one intermittent firefighter. We needed to be able to get two, three-person rigs out the door at any given time.”

Other scenarios contribute to the firefighter overtime, Root said.

“Emergency callbacks put in a decent amount, but that’s all depending on how many multiple calls we get,” he said. “That should definitely be less this year because we are increasing our staff to nine.”

Training also contributes somewhat to overtime.

“I’m paying a couple of guys in different rescue specialties to go train with the county team (instead of training the entire department),” he said, adding two men are on the SWAT team, three are on HAZMAT and three are in water rescue. “I’m not paying a whole department to learn the technical rescues. That turns out to be a pretty decent amount.”

Contact Rebecca Turman at rturman@2presspapers.com

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