Overtime Scandal? Brigantine Republicans Say No.
Overtime payouts are soaring in Brigantine. Unions claim it’s due to lack of staffing. Others think it’s due to the Mayor not knowing who OK’s the overtime.
From the Press of Atlantic City, MAY 11, 2014: Manager Jennifer Blumenthal said the spike is due in part to the captains — who are paid at a higher rate than lieutenants and other firefighters — taking more overtime and submitting requests to cash the time in now instead of at the end of their careers, as is general custom.
“They keep approving overtime even as the director says they can’t do it,” she said. “One captain will approve bringing in another captain during his shift.”
Blumenthal said each time the issue is brought up, the department’s labor attorney argues that the captains, as the officers-in charge, are entitled to approve each others’ requests without input form the public safety director.
Mayor Phil Guenther, who has argued against having the director since before Howard’s appointment, said overtime would be greatly reduced if the city hired full-time firefighters instead of the part-time employees Howard has favored in filling in for recent retirements.
“If you had proper staffing, you wouldn’t have to call people in on overtime,” he said, adding that the director and manager are ultimately responsible for denying overtime requests.
But Blumenthal said the city’s restricted in what it can do, since the current Fire Department leadership has broadly interpreted their contract.
“Overtime is not capped at the budgeted figures,” she said. “If we keep incurring overtime the way we are now, I’m not going to have enough to cover that.”