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Overtime pay for firefighters unresolved

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Jo Clifton

City Council discussed but failed to resolve at Tuesday’s work session questions about moving $3.5 million from the city’s Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund into the General Fund to pay for firefighters’ overtime for the next four months. Two issues lie at the heart of the overtime conundrum. First is Council’s previous commitment to four-person staffing on every fire vehicle. Second is the fact that the department is under a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, which upended hiring starting in 2014. That has coincided with many retirements. Fire Department Chief of Staff Tom Dodds told Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, in response to Flannigan’s questions, that it would be impractical to try to limit the number of firefighters per vehicle before the end of the fiscal year in September. Flannigan seemed to accept that but the idea of less staffing will no doubt return, probably as soon as today when Council gets together for a budget work session with heavy emphasis on the public safety budget. Council is still scheduled to vote on the $3.5 million transfer on Thursday and it’s hard to see how it could say no. Council Member Pio Renteria also criticized the department Tuesday. He said he noticed that the department has four new captains, but none of them are minorities.

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