The York City Fire Department is proposing a $110,000 increase in its 2014 overtime budget, a black hole of city resources that officials have tried to rein in for years.
In 2010, the city spent more than $600,000 on firefighter overtime.
Mayor Kim Bracey and then-Fire Chief Steve Buffington restructured the department to cut that expense.
But, according to acting Chief David Michaels, controlling overtime costs remains a challenge.
The city budgeted $265,000 for firefighter overtime this year, but is projected to spend about $376,000, according to the department's 2014 proposal.
That increase is primarily a result of several long-term injuries among firefighters this year. The department must cover its shifts, Michaels said. And, with only 59 firefighters total, that often requires firefighters to work overtime, he said.
In his 2014 proposal, Michaels is requesting to budget $375,000 for overtime because he anticipates a wage increase when the city and the firefighters' union settle on a new contract.
Michaels said he also expects a few firefighters to retire next year, opening positions that must be filled with overtime until the department can hire new firefighters.
Michaels is requesting to maintain the department's current complement of 59 firefighters, which includes himself and deputy Chief Greg Halpin.
Bracey said she'll look closely at the department's staffing and overtime numbers before preparing her own budget proposal for the York City Council.
The fire department is also planning to lose some revenue next year if the York City Council votes - possibly as early as Tuesday - to discontinue the city's requirement that new businesses connect to the Gamewell fire-alarm system.
Eventually, if the proposal is approved, the city would terminate use of the Gamewell system entirely.
The department expected to collect about $85,000 in connection fees this year, though the projected amount is now closer to $42,000. If Gamewell is discontinued, that line item would be completely zeroed out in 2014.
However, Michaels said, the city will also save money in its public works budget that it currently spends on maintenance.
Michaels also warned Bracey and her budget team of an aging infrastructure that will require upgrades in the coming years. The average age of the city's fire stations is 89 years old, and one of the department's reserve engines has been around for 30 years, Michaels said.
The chief is requesting $150,000 in next year's budget to replace the roof at the Lincoln Station, 800 Roosevelt Ave.
Michaels said the roof leaks, which could resurrect a mold problem the city spent $67,000 to fix after Tropical Storm Lee flooded the building with three feet of water in 2011.
Each of the four stations needs roof repairs, he said.
Finally, Michaels is requesting $50,000 to purchase a new duty vehicle that, he said, is "essentially a mobile office."- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.