Excerpts from the Herald-news.com:

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.

The issue of fire department overtime came up in February, when Fire Chief Joseph Formhals sought council approval for the acquisition of a truck, which would have required lower staffing. He said he was trying to address overtime amid staffing shortages. Firefighters objected. The mayor called the $300,000 spent in December on fire department overtime obscene. Eventually, the plan was shelved.

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

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

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