Springfield faces $2.5M deficit, paid $2.6M in overtime

During Fiscal Year 2018, Springfield city employees raked in $6.5 million in overtime pay.(Rachel Droze)

The city of Springfield's fiscal year wrapped up in at the end of February.

During Fiscal Year 2018, Springfield city employees raked in $6.5 million in overtime pay.

That's an increase of over $1 million from 2017.

Of the FY 2018 overtime, $2.6 million came out of the city’s corporate fund, which is their general fund.

“Most of the overtime you're going to find when you look at that is in our police department, our fire department and our public works department,” said Bill McCarty, director of Springfield’s Office of Budget and Management.

McCarty said the city is currently facing a $2.5 million structural deficit in that corporate fund.

In theory, cutting the overtime in departments paid out by that fund would eliminate the gap, but it’s not that simple since city officials said a lot of OT is the result of existing union contracts.

“Unfortunately, the items of the past are the past with regards to contracts so you have to go from that point forward,” Mayor Jim Langfelder said.

In FY 2018, the Springfield Police Department paid out $1.6 million in overtime.

Much of that was budgeted to cover items guaranteed in union contracts.

To cut costs, the department is delaying hiring a new class of officers until January.

"You're going to have that savings by not paying that salary or that fringe benefit or that pension for them until the end of the year, but with that there are going to be times when we have essential functions we have to do that we're going to have to use overtime to back-fill," Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said.

The Springfield Fire Department paid about $650,000 worth of overtime in FY 2018.

Again, union contracts drove much of that.

"Most of our overtime line, actually almost half, is really just budgeted holiday pay,” Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne said.

The Springfield Public Works Department spent about $280,000 of OT in FY 2018, but officials said cutting that would potentially cut services.

"It comes down to, do we want to provide these services?” McCarty said. “Do we want our folks out snowplowing on Saturdays and Sundays? Sundays in particular when we pay double time per the contract."

The city's budget director said not just overtime that’s keeping Springfield in the red.

The state taking more tax dollars from the city, rising police and fire pension costs and less sales tax dollars coming in are also contributing to the deficit.

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