By Dedra Cordle
The increasing cost of overtime has the Jackson Township Fire Department seeking outside assistance.
At a specially held meeting on April 23, Fire Chief Randy Little told the board of trustees that an individual who does not work at the department has been combing through the budget in order to make recommendations on the options available to lower the cost of overtime.
The individual, who Little says does not want to be named publicly at this time, is looking through the budget as a “professional courtesy” and has not asked for, nor has he received, compensation for his services.
Little said this individual, whom he has known for many years, is “immensely qualified” to offer suggestions and inferred that he has been in charge of a similar sized fire department.
“He has gone through similar budget issues that our department is currently facing,” explained Little after the meeting.
The board of trustees said they were fine with Little’s decision to seek outside consultation.
During the meeting, trustee David Burris inquired about the timeline for the overtime cost reduction recommendations.
Little said it would take the individual several weeks to make recommendations and that he expects to discuss those recommendations with the board at the May 15 regular meeting.
Little’s decision to seek outside assistance comes on the heels of a meeting that took place on April 17 where he discussed several options to reduce the cost of overtime with the board. Some of his recommendations called for the hiring of up to six full-time firefighters; a reduction in fire tech services; and/or cross staffing at several fire stations.
Over the course of the hour-long discussion, the board could not come to an agreement on any of the options Little proposed.
Burris said that while he thought one of the options would work in the short-term, his concerns lay with the long-term.
“These are just short-term solutions for a long-term problem,” he said.
According to projections, the cost of overtime for the fire department will reach $459,000 this year.