Is overtime in the Buffalo Fire Department is out of control? Many fear it could hamper FF's ability to negotiate a new contract. Some Union Officials blame it on manpower, some feel sick time abuse may be partly to blame. Whatever the cause or causes - some changes must occur as taxpayers are growing tired of increased taxes.
Buffalo City Officials say:
Fire overtime in the first pay period of the new fiscal year hit its highest level since Byron W. Brown became mayor in early 2006. Firefighters received $512,283 in overtime during the first half of July, when they worked 11,839 hours.
One City Official said: "You're basically spending at a rate of over $1 million a month,"
Recently some city leaders have voiced suspicions that morale problems caused by a five-year contract stalemate have driven up sick time. The city must comply with minimum manpower levels, so overtime costs increase when more firefighters call in sick.
Overtime in the first pay period was 88 percent over budget, and 18 percent higher than it was during the same period a year ago.
"We're concerned as well … not just you," retorted Deputy Fire Commissioner Patrick T. Lewis.
He stated: Nine firefighters remain out on injuries following a June fire in a Niagara Street warehouse, said Lewis, contributing to the higher overtime.
One possible solution offered by a City Official was, if some higher-ranking fire officials could be demoted, thereby allowing them to get back on fire trucks and fulfill minimum manpower needs.
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