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Local News

Joliet looks at city overtime costs

Joliet City Hall
Joliet City Hall

The city of Joliet is taking a closer look at overtime costs, especially in the fire and police departments.

The fire department has spent more than $1 million on overtime, which is

60 percent of its overtime budget for the year, according to a report presented to the Joliet City Council Finance Committee this week.

The police department has spent only 26 percent of its overtime budget, although the total of $652,000 makes it the second-highest among city departments.

Administration is preparing an analysis of police and fire overtime for the Finance Committee, City Manager David Hales told the committee.

Hales noted that “there’s been a lot of interest.”

The issue of fire department overtime came up in February, when Fire Chief Joseph Formhals sought council approval for the acquisition of a quint truck, which would have required lower staffing.

Formhals said he was trying to address overtime amid staffing shortages. Firefighters objected. Mayor Bob O’Dekirk called the $300,000 spent in December on fire department overtime “obscene.”

Eventually, the plan was shelved.

Ken Mihelich, director of administrative services, said the analysis presented next month will consider the effect of vacant positions on overtime, as well as how sick time and time off for workers’ compensation contribute to the costs.

The size of overtime budgets tends to be connected to the size of the departments and the need to call in staff for emergency help.

The city has spent $507,000 on overtime in the Public Works Department through March, according to the report. Public works has used up a higher percentage of its annual overtime budget, 73 percent, than the fire department.

Other departments have used even higher percentages of the budget, even though the overtime costs are relatively low.

The Department of Inspectional Services has spent $1,232 on overtime, but its overtime budget only was $103 for the year.

The Finance Department has used 94 percent of its overtime budget while spending a little more than $7,000.

“In customer service, we’re a little high because I’ve been down two to four people all year,” finance director James Ghedotte said.

So far this year, the city has spent about $2.6 million on overtime.

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