Monday, July 21, 2014

Overtime pay to Wyandotte County public safety employees down 20 percent in 2014


The amount of overtime paid to the three public safety departments in Wyandotte County is projected to decrease by $1 million by the end of 2014.

Last year the Unified Government paid employees from the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department, Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office over $5 million worth of overtime.

This year's total could be 20 percent less if current projections hold until the end of the year. 

So far this year, the KCK Fire Department has reduced its overtime pay by 51 percent, while the police department has slashed overtime by 28 percent and the sheriff's office has reduced its overtime by eight percent.

Unified Government Mayor/CEO Mark Holland called the news a step in the right direction, but recommended the departments to do more, challenging all three to find an additional $500,000 worth of overtime to be eliminated.

Holland said reducing overtime could help the county maintain its bond rating.

"We need to be aggressive in protecting our bond rating," Holland said. "The cost of losing our bond rating exceeds the cost of making some changes."

Due to its lower cash balance fund, the UG is in danger of having its bond rating lowered, meaning a higher interest rate when borrowing money to fund larger projects.

UG Commissioner Hal Walker also said overtime should be lowered, but said a detailed plan is needed for all departments.

"It sounds good, but I'd like to know what the department chiefs plan to do," Walker said.

The cost of public safety has increased the most out of all budget items in Wyandotte County. The non-public safety budget has increased by under two percent since 2006.

The fire department's budget has increased by 33 percent during that time, while the sheriff's department's budget has increased by 54 percent. The police budget has increased by 14.7 percent in that same time period.

Earlier this year, the UG board approved of an efficiency study to examine how the department spends money and operates as a whole.