THE CITY OF NEWARK, OHIO, HAS FOUND OUT THAT MORE IS BETTER. The city’s Fire Chief Jack Stickradt ran the numbers, checked it twice, and convinced the city manager that they would save big bucks if they hired more firefighters. The savings come with the large reduction in the overtime budget that will result with the larger workforce.
The Newark Advocate explains:
The overtime budget, which had been teetering close to $1 million in past years, is expected to be less than $500,000 for the first time in years. Mayor Bob Diebold said projections are for overtime in 2010 to be about $174,000. In Newark, union contracts require 19 firefighters to be working at all times. But in years past, there were too few firefighters for each of them to work normal shifts and still have 19 in the firehouses all day.
Stickradt said he long has told administrations that if more firefighters were hired, overtime costs would go down. This year, (Mayor Bob) Diebold accommodated him by hiring nine new positions. The move brought the total number of firefighters from 79 at the beginning of 2009 to 88 today.
According to payroll records provided by the fire department, the result is that when the department only had 79 people to fill the required slots in January and February, overtime averaged around $30,505 each pay period. But since the department reached 88 individuals in late September, overtime expenses have dropped to around $8,020 each pay period, a savings of almost $22,500 every two weeks.
Chief Stickradt goes on to say that prior to the new hires, 90 to 95 percent of all overtime costs were to maintain minimum manning. Now just about all of the overtime is utilized in non-minimum usages such as training or other necessary activities outside of the scheduled shift assignments.
The overtime savings not only offset the cost of the increased salary load, but by reducing the ingrained fatigue that comes with excessive overtime assignments, injury costs, etc., are reduced.
Firegeezer notes: Newark is the home of the corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Co., a manufacturer and distributor of handcrafted American maple wood baskets. The stucco-over steel office building is designed to look like their biggest-selling item, the “Medium Market Basket” and is a prominent tourist destination to see the architectural oddity.