Finance balks at wish lists for now

A wish list for additional personnel in the city fire and police departments likely will not be approved this year because of a tight budget, a Wapakoneta City Council member says, but she is willing to listen to the department chiefs’ justifications.

Wapakoneta City Council Finance Committee members reviewed several funds Wednesday including the Wapakoneta Police Department. Committee members discussed the Wapakoneta Fire Department budget earlier in the process during a December meeting.

Wapakoneta 3rd Ward Councilor Bonnie Wurst, who chairs the Finance Committee, learned Police Chief Russ Hunlock would like to hire an additional dispatcher as one dispatcher spends more and more time serving as the department’s records clerk.

At a December Finance Committee meeting, Fire Chief Kendall Krites requested the possible addition of a swing shift firefighter to reduce overtime of other firefighters and to help cover shifts during vacations.

“It is too early in the budget process to give

a definitive answer, but I can determine already that it is going to be difficult to add personnel and keep the budget at a reasonable rate of growth or to keep the budget balanced,” Wurst said. “Our cash carryover has been decreasing every year for several years and we have to have a cash carryover.”

She said Krites told Finance Committee members much of the cost for a new position could be offset by reductions in overtime as a firefighter is often called to cover firefighters who may be on a rescue squad, or EMS, run as well as firefighters working to cover vacations.

“I would like to see the actual numbers on what Kendall pays people whom he calls back in and how that would compare to another salary for a swing shift employee,” Wurst said after Wednesday’s meeting. “I would like to see a breakdown of those numbers to determine if it will reduce the overtime enough to be worth the money or result in no net increase.”

City administrators have appropriated a preliminary amount of $1.66 million for 2013 after spending $1.55 million in 2012 for the police department. Finance Committee members already discussed the fire department budget which was tentatively set at $1.53 million for 2013, compared to expenses totaling $1.48 million in 2012.

Personnel dollars appropriated for Krites’ department is $270,000 for supervisory pay, which includes the chief and captains, and $590,000 for non-supervisory, or firefighter pay. They spent $250,000 and $574,500, respectively in 2012.

Wurst would like to discuss the dispatcher and records clerk position more with Hunlock.

City administrators appropriated $150,000 for supervisory positions, $250,000 for dispatchers and $650,000 for non-supervisory, or police officers, in 2013. They spent $125,634, $206,416 and $644,583, respectively, in 2012 for the three divisions of personnel.

“I haven’t heard his justification for another dispatcher, or as Mayor Rodney Metz said for a position of records clerk,” Wurst said. “I would like to hear the justification for the creation of that position. I intend to talk to both Krites and Hunlock in the coming weeks to learn more about their plans.

“I reiterate this is still early in the budget process and we will go over each of these funds again before we approve the appropriations and have documents submitted for council approval,” she said. “We have a long way to go since we are mandated by law to have a balanced budget.”

The city must have appropriations and its 2013 budget passed and in force by April 1.