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City seeks police overtime cut

February 18, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

City seeks police overtime cut

Hagerstown officials said Tuesday they would look at ways to reduce police overtime, especially in the areas of court time, investigations and staffing shortages.

Those are the top three reasons why department members earn overtime, Police Chief Dale Jones told the mayor and City Council during a Tuesday work session.

They account for $287,149, or 57 percent, of the $504,180 spent on overtime from July 1, 1997, to Jan. 31, 1998, Jones said.

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Police overtime for this fiscal year is expected to be $807,000, said City Finance Director Al Martin. Overtime costs will have more than tripled since fiscal year 1991-1992, when they were $256,339.

As of Jan. 31, only $43,756 remained in this fiscal year's police overtime budget of $547,936.

Jones said overtime costs for the upcoming fiscal year are expected to be $845,000 because more officers will be on the streets. If police continue to make a high number of arrests, that leads to more court time and overtime, he said.

Police Capt. Robert Voytko said he would talk to court officials about ways to reduce court-related overtime. Officers who work nights and weekends are paid overtime for attending court on weekdays.

Court time accounted for $110,576 of overtime during the first seven months of the fiscal year, the largest amount for any overtime category.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said staff members would have a brainstorming session to come up with ways to reduce overtime.

Jones said it would "take no less than drastic change" to reduce overtime.

That would include cutting back on overtime in all areas and implementing a new scheduling method to address overtime in regard to court time, investigations and manpower shortages.

The police department lost the equivalent of 144 days of work to worker's compensation in 1997, said Eric Marburger, the city's personnel manager.

Overtime categories mandated through contracts with employee unions will be addressed during the next negotiations, Jones said. Those include the 15-minute roll call overlap during which the previous shift remains on the street while the incoming shift is updated on the day's crimes and suspects.

Three sergeants a day are paid overtime for 30 minutes before their shifts, when they prepare for and handle roll call, Jones said.

Of the $504,180 spent during the year's first seven months, only $53,525 doesn't come from the city's general fund, Jones said.

That amount is paid through grants and reimbursements from businesses and schools for overtime patrol requests.

Jones said one reason overtime increased after 1992 was that was the year the city started tracking compensatory time, which is included in the overtime budget.

Salary increases also bumped overtime up since it is calculated from base pay, he said.

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