Keohane challenging Fire Dept overtime pay

by Frank Schroth

At the last meeting of the Board of Selectmen there was an item on the agenda calling for approval of a Reserve Fund Transfer (RFT) request from Chief Grant of the Fire Department for $32,000 to help cover the cost of overtime in salary and wages for the remainder of 2013. When the item came up for discussion Selectman Keohane said, “I have a big problem with this.”

Keohane noted that we have 59 firefighters but we can’t get “11 to show up and go home on time.” He believes the town is spending “way too much” on overtime and that there needs to be “better management” of the budget. “I am going to vote no on this tonight.” As it happened, a vote was not taken. The Selectmen are inviting Chief Grant to come to their next session to discuss the overtime issue.

In his letter requesting the RFT Chief Grant cited a several reasons for the need. One was that level dollar budgets to overtime line have remained flat over the last several years which wages have increased and two, extra manpower was required during the recent blizzard. Lastly, the department is dealing with some long term absences due to illness and injury.

Keohane said in his remarks that the overtime was $5700 a week and that he wanted to see one week where personnel show up and go home on time.

Chair Hurley said that there will be a similar issue with the Police Department. Keohane said his response would be the same. He said “Department heads be prepared.”