Overtime pay scrutinized in Dover as FY16 budget proposed
DOVER - Overtime for city police and fire personnel is being scrutinized as Dover moves closer to passing their $128 million fiscal year budget for 2016.
According to the city's website, the top 20 earners in Dover brought home a total of $325,313 in overtime last year. Firefighter and paramedic Brian Jacques was paid $42,781 in overtime.
Sgt. Janine Harrington in the police department earned $37,604 in overtime.
That is on top of a $66,362 salary for Jacques and a $76,718 salary for Harrington.
Police Chief Anthony Colarusso defended the use of overtime pay Monday, saying that only 2.8 percent of his budget is used for compensating employees who work extra hours. Compared to like-sized communities, Colarusso said, Dover pays less in overtime to members of their police force.
Much of the overtime pay is used for training, or highway safety programs, which the city is granted money or reimbursed for, Colarusso said. The police chief also dispelled the myth that police officers are paid overtime by taxpayers to aid in traffic control at construction sites.
As a matter of fact, the police department earns extra money for police cruisers when construction companies hire police officers for such details, Colarusso said.
City Manager Michael Joyal said overtime is necessary to maintain staffing at the police and fire departments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At any given time, 12 members of the fire department have to be on duty in order to ensure operations run smoothly in an emergency situation.
Joyal said the city uses data analysis similar to large manufacturing businesses in order to determine whether it is better to offer employees overtime, or hire more people.
"It's good business sense to look at those numbers," Joyal said of the numbers provided by private businesses.
Joyal said a majority of overtime hours come from emergency situations, such as large snowstorms and blizzards, when the call volume from members of the public increase.
Fire Chief Richard Driscoll was not available on Monday for comment.
There will be a public hearing on the city's budget April 22 at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The council is expected to vote on the budget May 6.