The Turlock City Council approved a number of mid-cycle budget requests last week that will see an additional $155,220 come out of the City's General Fund Reserve.
The majority of requests were related to personnel expenditures - with $100,000 going to overtime pay for the City's firefighters.
The Fire Department requested an additional $150,000 for overtime costs, as the department has spent approximately $550,000 per year on overtime for the past several years and only $400,000 was allocated for overtime in the 2016-17 budget.
City Manager Gary Hampton recommended - and the Council approved -only allocating an additional $100,000, however.
"The idea is to continue trying to find efficiencies in the Fire Department for overtime costs...it's very clear they aren't going to be able to carve $150,000 out of their overtime. This is something we can address through some ideas I have on efficiency and how we manage our backfill. The majority of the Fire Department's backfill is associated with leave times, holiday leave times. We pay twice for those leave times, we pay the person who's on leave and we pay the person who's backfilling...those are labor negotiation issues. Those aren't policy issues by Chief Talloni or by your city manager," said Hampton.
In 2016, overtime usages represented 22,184 hours, of which 48 percent was attributed to backfilling vacation or holiday leaves, 22 percent was attributed to backfilling comp time leave, 19 percent was attributed to backfilling sick leave and the remainder was attributed to backfilling workers compensation and miscellaneous leaves.
The other major expenditure in the request is an over hire in the finance department to train someone to replace a senior accountant who will be retiring at the end of the fiscal year. The cost of over hiring for a three month training and transition period is $43,870.
Among the other expenses approved by the Council are:
• $11,880 in temporary labor to cover the maternity leave of the accounts payable clerk;
• $2,606 for the cost of an administrative investigation in the Park Maintenance Department by an outside contractor;
• $1,925 in overtime to complete accounting work needed for the annual audit; and
• $1,500 for the recruitment of additional Planning Department staff needed due to the passing of Measure L - Local Roads First Transportation Funding - by voters in November.
The City's General Fund was projected to be $8.9 million on June 30, 2017 before mid-year adjustments and $8.6 million after the adjustments, according to City Attorney Phaedra Norton.