By STEVE JONES Staff writer
Both the police and fire department in Rome managed to come in under budget for salaries and overtime in 2011, according to city figures. Calls for service increased slightly for each department last year compared to 2010.
The police department’s budget for 2011 was $6,160,809. Of that, $4,891,729 was for salaries and wages. Another $321,524 was budgeted for overtime. Actual salary costs left $105,215 unspent, and $69,000 of that was transferred to other costs, including money used for vehicle purchases at the end of the year.
The department also saved $66,231 in overtime costs, though all but $231 of that was used for the vehicle purchases. Part of the savings was because of a departmental reorganization that removed three promotional positions in favor of three patrolman spots, which have lower salaries. The starting salary for a patrolman after completing academy training is $39,615. That figure has been unchanged since 2010, as the department has been operating without a union contract since that year. A retroactive raise for 2011 would increase the amounts spent on salaries and overtime.
As of today there are 71 men and four women on the force. The department is authorized to have as many as 76 officers, and there is currently one vacancy.
Not all of the money for salaries or overtime comes from the city’s coffers. Rome is able to cover part of the cost through grants each year. For example, the Weed & Seed program (which the city will not have in 2012) provided $37,000 in overtime reimbursement in 2011.
The 10 members of the police department who earned the most in overtime pay in 2011 were:
¿ Patrolman Albert Ciccone ($14,414). He is in charge of property and evidence.
¿ Patrolman Donald D’Aiuto ($13,499). He is in charge of the Forensic Unit.
¿ Patrolman Jason Paul ($12,758)
¿ Detective Frederick Robenski Jr. ($12,458)
¿ Sgt. Thomas Smith ($8,273). He is the juvenile aid officer.
¿ Patrolman Christopher Shean ($7,100)
¿ Sgt. Jason Worth ($7,095). At the time he was a member of the county Child Advocacy Center.
¿ Sgt. Jay DiMaggio ($6,999). He is also in the Forensic Unit.
¿ Detective Jeffrey Race ($6,889)
¿ Detective James Boyer ($6,544)
At the end of the year, the department’s total operations cost $97,545 less than was budgeted, according to Chief Kevin C. Beach.
The department is buying three new vehicles in part because of savings in overtime in 2011. The Common Council approved a plan last month to purchase two patrol vehicles and one unmarked vehicle at an estimated cost of $80,000, with $66,000 of that coming from savings from the overtime wages column of the department’s budget, as well as $24,000 from salaries. Those amounts totaled $90,000, with the extra $10,000 funding equipment for several vehicles already in the fleet.
In late 2011, Chief Beach told the Board of Estimate and Contract that the salaries and overtime savings were "due in large part to the replacement of retiring officers with rookies at reduced wages." This week, he added, the savings came "from us keeping an eye on our overtime expenses and a good job by all the supervisors deploying our officers in the most cost-effective way. We were fortunate that we didn’t have any major cases, which can eat up your overtime money very quickly."
This year, the department’s budget is $6,193,133, a slight increase of over $32,000. The salaries and wages line item was cut to $4,887,233 and overtime was cut to $290,000.
Rome police responded to an increased number of calls for service in 2012 compared to the years before. There were 33,066 calls for service last year. There were 32,175 the year before, as well as 34,209 in 2009.
The fire department’s 2011 budget was $6,106,499, with $5,380,579 for salaries and $75,000 for overtime. The department spent $5,348,518 for salaries — after being reimbursed $56,000 from a federal program that funded the salaries of two firefighters. That money will also be provided this year.
Overtime for firefighters is handled a bit differently than with police, as firefighters called back to work are paid regular wages, unlike police, who get time-and-a-half. Therefore, the police overtime budget will often have fewer hours but a similar amount of money spent.
The department spent $98,600 in overtime costs, though it was reimbursed a total of $37,751 — from the county and U.S. Department of Homeland Security for training, as well as from the CSX railroad company for responding to a train derailment, said Chief Ronald M. Brement.
Overtime costs are determined in part by how much training the department can get. "If we can get our training costs reimbursed fully, we would be foolish not to do that," said Brement. "Otherwise, you gauge the quality of the training to see if it’s worth it."
The 10 members of the fire department who earned the most in overtime pay in 2011 were:
¿ Lt. Mark Gualtieri ($4,448)
¿ Deputy Chief Thomas Palinski ($4,330)
¿ Chief Brement ($3,802)
¿ Lt. Michael Liddy Jr. ($3,732)
¿ Lt. David Zakala ($3,728)
¿ Capt. David Gratch ($3,385)
¿ Lt. Scott Burch ($2,873)
¿ Firefighter Brian Revere ($2,478)
¿ First Assistant Chief Terence Miller ($2,379)
¿ Firefighter Brian Townsend Jr. ($2,379)
This year, the department’s budget is up about $118,000 to $6,224,597. There’s $5,446,524 for salaries (up about $66,000) and $75,000 (unchanged) for overtime.
The department is authorized to have 85 officers, and has 81 on staff currently. There are no female firefighters or officers in the department. The starting salary for a firefighter after the academy is $36,084. As with the police union, the fire department’s union has been without a contract since the end of 2010, so a retroactive raise for 2011 would change the salary and overtime expenses.
The department had 4,786 calls for service last year. Of those calls, 3,324 were for first aid. There were also 306 motor vehicle accidents, 63 structure fires and 36 vehicle fires.
That was up slightly from 4,740 in 2010. Those two years have been a big departure from the 4,171 calls in 2009. The main reason, said Chief Brement, was a requirement that went into effect two years ago to put a carbon monoxide detector in all homes. That alone, he said, has accounted for about 500 calls a year in 2010 and 2011 — essentially the difference between total calls in those years and the previous years.