Still no answer to the question of overtime pay for members of the Brigantine Fire Department. The following comments were made at the May 24 City Council meeting by Anne H. Phillips of the Brigantine Taxpayers Association...
First, The Brigantine Taxpayers Association wants to thank publicly Mr. Dan Howard for his many accomplishments as director of public safety. He has exemplified the meaning of the word ‘professional’ in his skills and in his behavior. It is fair to say that, too often, and not to Brigantine’s credit, his professionalism was not reciprocated.
Mr. Howard recognized the reality that everyone in this administration must accept. Substantial departmental and contractual changes must be made for our City’s budgets to be financially sustainable and affordable to taxpayers. He served the City well.
Second, the election’s over, but issues remain, one of which is the use of overtime in the police and fire departments, in particular the differences of opinion concerning whose authority it is to approve it.
The director says that, according to the public arbiter, as of Feb. 19, 2014, the captains now approve overtime.
At the last Council meeting, Mayor Phil Guenther, upon hearing this said, ‘I don’t know. I’m shocked since I assumed the manager has the final say. The system is flawed.’
However, Capt. Platt of the fire department continues to say, contrary to his own union’s policy and practice, that the Director has ‘ultimate control over how much overtime is spent.’
A previous fire chief, Darryl Platt, agrees with the arbiter and the unions, saying, ‘The department heads have always had and should continue to have the final approval.’
What do City Council and its labor counsel say?
Overtime may exceed the budgeted amount, which in the 2014 budget exceeds $700,000. Should a department’s personnel have final control over their own overtime without any oversight from the CEO (the City manager) who represents Council, which represents taxpayers?
These questions are still open. Taxpayers have a right to know how, why and what decisions are being made.
Anne H. Phillips
Brigantine Taxpayers Association