By Amelia Robinson
The Dayton Daily News
BEAVERCREEK TWP., Ohio — Beavercreek Twp. trustee has proposed a cap he hopes will curtail fire department overtime expenses he says have spiraled out of control. Costs rose 11 percent last year over 2010.
"I am looking to bring consistency and bring accountability," said Trustee Dan Paxson, a former firefighter. "What I am trying to do is manage how time is managed."
The township's three-member board of trustees will have a work session in coming weeks to hash out Paxson's proposal that would cap overtime spending at 6 percent of the department's base costs for full-time firefighter salaries. Flexibility would be allowed for in emergency situations, Paxson said following a trustee's meeting Monday.
Beavercreek Twp. firefighters cover the township, which includes the city of Beavercreek.
Overtime for special project work would be preapproved by the township administration. Projects would be preapproved by the board of trustees.
With its 76 employees - 65 of whom are nonadministrative staff - the fire department represents the bulk of the township's roughly $27 million annual budget.
The fire department spent about $11.5 million in 2011.
Of that, $388,811 went to overtime for the department, about 7.7 percent of the total $5,058,557 personnel costs, according to an overtime report Paxson requested.
In 2010, the department spent $351,860 for overtime. That totals about 7.4 percent of that year's $4,763,200 fire department personnel expense. Township fire chief David Vandenbos said he could not dispute that last year's overtime cost was high, but he said the expense was justified.
More than 2,200 hours of overtime last year was to cover shifts for firefighters away from the job due to job-related injuries, he said.
"It is certainly more than I would prefer to spend, but in the end it is a balancing act," Vandenbos said.
Seventy percent of overtime last year was spent to staff frontline emergency crews.
Beavercreek Twp. firefighters worked 7,537 overtime hours in 2011, about 1,600 hours, or 27 percent, more than in 2010 when 5,920 hours were worked.
There were 5,919 hours worked in 2009 and 9,671 worked in 2008.
There was a special project in 2008 that required additional overtime, Vandenbos said.
In 2009, the year he became chief, Vandenbos said his department recommended the overtime be managed so it does not exceed 10 percent of personnel costs.
An 8 percent target was suggested. According to the report, overtime expenses have not exceeded 8 percent of personnel costs since. During Monday's trustees' meeting, trustee Carol Graff said overtime has been raised as an issue several times since 2008.
Twice, analayses have shown that paying overtime was less expensive than hiring new personnel.
Graff said she was worried that the trustee board could be overstepping its responsibilities.
"We end up micromanaging a department," she said.
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