WILKES-BARRE – In looking for ways to reduce expenses next year, Mayor Tom Leighton spared overtime for city employees from deep cuts.
His proposed 2013 budget includes $654,371 in overtime, $609 less than what he budgeted this year and $48,021 more than what was contained in his 2011 spending plan.
According to payroll information obtained by The Times Leader through a Right-to-Know request the city was approaching the 2012 overtime budget of $654,980 last month.
As of Nov. 21, the city paid out $582,979 in overtime or 89 percent of the budgeted amount. Two payrolls were scheduled between then and the end of the year and the last one was set for Dec. 21.
The collective bargaining agreements with unions representing employees mandate the circumstances under which overtime can be earned, Drew McLaughlin, administrative coordinator for the city, said in an e-mail.
The agreements also give rights for vacation and sick days and other issues that can affect overtime costs in some of the unions, he added.
The overtime amounts included as line items in the budget are determined by the city.
The city budgets a number based on historical precedent as to how much was spent in previous budget cycles to budget an estimated amount for the upcoming fiscal year, McLaughlin said.
The fire, police and public works departments accounted for $567,750 in budgeted overtime.
The fire department was accumulating overtime almost daily since the mayor laid off 11 firefighters on Dec. 1 in an attempt to make up for an estimated $2 million revenue shortfall.
Those cuts could be carried over into next year and additional layoffs could be made in other departments in order to reduce the 30 mill property tax hike the mayor proposed in his $45.8 million balanced budget.
The fire department's budgeted overtime was $50,000 for this year. It dropped to $43,971 in 2013. Emergency overtime remained at $40,000.
In comparison, the city budgeted $45,000 in overtime this year for ambulance service and $9,000 for emergency overtime. Those numbers were unchanged for next year.
McLaughlin said the budgeted figure is a forecast of what the city thinks it should spend on overtime. If a department exceeds the budgeted figure it can be covered by a reduction in another area.
Just because a line item is encumbered over budget, that doesn't mean there's not money there to pay it, he said.
None of the city firefighters were among the top 10 overtime earners as of Nov. 21, according to a review of city payroll data.
Paramedic Tyler Hammond collected $11,562 in overtime as of Nov. 21 and was the 10th highest overtime earner among city employees.
Seven of the 10 were members of the police department:
• Sgt. James Sheridan, $22,060;
• Patrolman James Fisher, $19,917;
• Det. Joseph Coffay Jr., $19,592;
• Patrolman Robert Collins, $18,069;
• Patrolman John Majikes, $13,402;
• Patrolman Christopher Maciejczyk, $13,071;
• Sgt. Matthew Stash, $12,243.
Police were budgeted a total of $237,750 in overtime for this. The patrol division accounted for $120,000 of the total. Total overtime increased to $244,850 in next year's budget.
Public Works followed with the next highest total of $186,000. Waste collection accounted for $86,500 of the total. Overtime increased to $189,000 next year.