by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Fire Department OT will be discussed at Finance meeting
Fire Department OT will be discussed at Finance meeting

 “Every [city] department has to live within its means,” stated Steve Williams, council finance chairman, regarding the snowballing use of fire department unscheduled overtime following the August 27 council meeting. At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, council’s Finance Committee has the use of $72,000 in Unscheduled OT in three pay periods on the agenda. $200,000 had been budgeted for the entire year.

Mayor Kim Wolfe stepped in modifying staffing parameters excluding sick time call-ins and off the job injuries. This decision curtailed some of the rapid OT expenditures, but has, at times, left staffing levels under 25 and trucks unmanned.

After the policy implementation, Deputy Chief Brian Grieco described himself as a “saddened and angered supervisor” who faces an unwelcome choice of “how do I decide which one of your districts does not get a truck that day.”

Williams has explained, “"City Council provided full funding of the Fire Department. The Fire Department’s Budget of $11,377,283 fully funded staffing and overtime. We simply made sure taxes did not have to be increased to fully fund both the Fire Department and Police Department. In fact, during our hearings we were lead to believe that funding at the levels allocated would assure proper staffing in both departments. The record will also show that Council indicated our intent was to assure proper staffing.”

Council provided for June $60,000 from contingency so the department could maintain staffing levels during the beginning of vacation season and summer heat which affects firefighters battling blazes in scorching temperatures.

Other agenda items include an Effluent line engineering agreement for the Huntington Sanitary Board whose director has surveyed other in and out of state boards and believes council purchase oversight and approvals is not part of the national procedural scheme. Raising rates to customers was discussed at the last Sanitary Board meeting. The rate increase would allow Huntington to receive a lower interest rate on bond funds.

Finally, a newly negotiated agreement on the operation of Harris Riverfront Park will be discussed.

The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers and open to the public.