Is overtime at the city over the top?

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Firefighters are knocking down big overtime, as are some police officers, as reported in Wednesday's edition of the Independent.
Firefighters battled the Waldo Canyon Fire round the clock for a time during 2012, and ended the year with an overtime tab that was 8.8 percent bigger than in 2011, or $333,281 more. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Firefighters battled the Waldo Canyon Fire round the clock for a time during 2012, and ended the year with an overtime tab that was 8.8 percent bigger than in 2011, or $333,281 more.
One police officer's regular pay in 2015 was $90,155, and he earned an additional $45,992 in overtime, for example.

In another case, a fire captain was paid $90,879 in regular pay and hauled in another $53,970 in overtime last year.

As we report, overtime has skyrocketed since 2009, and one reason is the failure of the city to fully recover from layoffs brought on by the 2008 recession, although some headway is being made.

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Dubay elaborates on the issue:
For 2010 and 2011 there were a number of factors that contributed to the sharp increase in overtime. First, there was the decision just prior to those years (2008-2009 timeframe) to purposely decrease the number of uniformed personnel as the leadership at that time felt that we could staff the organization with fewer people (decrease FTEs and save taxpayer dollars). Second, the economic downturn forced us to reduce FTEs further. This was partially accomplished by offering voluntary retirement incentives in 2009 and 2010. Also in 2010, we cross-staffed Haz Mat 14 and Engine 14 (four firefighters per day were reduced). In addition, actually, 2010 and 2011 were the two highest years for vacancies that we've had in those seven years with FD records showing 16 vacancies (2010) and 27 vacancies (2011). The difference in those numbers (yours and ours) are that your numbers show the vacancies to start the calendar year and our numbers are the highest total number of vacancies later in the year (before we hired new firefighters). As I mentioned, we approach our authorized strength when we hire new firefighters and then vacancies accrue throughout the year after that due to retirements and other departures. Finally, in 2010, we added Squad 8 (a two-firefighter medical squad) that required more staffing. All those items caused us to have to use more overtime to accomplish our minimum daily staffing.
The City Auditor's Office reported on overtime in June, but didn't pass judgment on the practice.
See related PDF OTAudit.pdf

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