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Local News

City of Joliet workforce will see less overtime pay

State budget forces city to make $2.6 million in cuts

JOLIET – The city will have to make some adjustments in payroll after fine-tuning the effect of the state budget.

Joliet Interim City Manager Marty Shanahan announced Thursday that the state budget for fiscal 2018, which began July 1 and ends June 20, looks like it will pay the city $2.6 million less than expected.

“The numbers are preliminary, but nonetheless, the impact on our city budget moving forward, because of the state, will be profound,” Shanahan said in a news release.

Because of that, effective immediately, all nonemergency overtime will be eliminated. Examples of emergency overtime include, but are not limited to, structure fires, homicides, water main breaks and snowplowing, according to the release.

“Our employees, as well as our residents in Joliet, must understand that what happens in Springfield (especially when funding is involved) directly impacts our city,” Shanahan said.

The shortfall is a result of changes in the state budget affecting Joliet and all municipalities.

Cities will get 10 percent less in a local share distributed from the state income tax, and begin paying a 2 percent fee to the state for administering sales tax dollars that come back to local government.

The city will lose more than $1.4 million from income tax dollars and will pay almost $500,000 in sales tax fees.

Each department head will be in charge of overseeing the cuts.

The largest workforce the city has is its police department. Thus, the department pays out the most overtime of any city department.

According to city payroll records, in 2015, Joliet police officers earned $3,279,008.87 of overtime in addition to $32,178,249.87 in regular pay. In 2016, there was $2,503,857.08 in overtime pay with $30,970,993.29 in regular pay.

In 2016, 12 officers of varying rank collected more than $20,000 in overtime. In 2015, that number was more than 45 officers.

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said it still is unclear what true effect the state budget will have on police operations this fiscal year. His department already pays overtime on a reactive basis, meaning emergency callouts still will happen. There still will be ample staffing if there’s a homicide or traffic fatality that requires accident reconstruction.

“Our reactive needs will still be funded,” Benton said.

Some of the proactive funding also will be in place. The chief said that if there are increases of violence in certain areas, officers will be in those locations as a deterrent because of concerns for safety of the community.

“Marty [Shanahan] understands that’s a need,” Benton said. “We’ll still have increased staffing in higher-crime areas as a direct response to our crime review each week.”

Benton said this is the time of year when police typically see increased tensions in and around schools, and in corresponding neighborhoods.

“We often see an increase in gang activity about this time, when kids go back to school,” Benton said. “Problems fester on social media and things happen over the summer, then they see each other in school. We will still have additional officers in problem areas.”

But there will be changes.

Benton said the department probably won’t be doing cross-training programs if they require overtime.

“Sometimes we allow a patrol officer a month in investigations, or traffic, or a tactical unit,” he said. “Sometimes they create overtime. Opportunities will decrease until we see where we’re at financially.”

The effect will be mild internally, and Benton stressed that the public should not see any effect in terms of service.

He said the department does not track percentage-wise how much of the overtime pay is nonemergency.

The second-largest workforce and second-highest payroll is the Joliet Fire Department.

That wing of city operations paid out $1,773,793.95 in overtime in 2016 in addition to $21,504,942.09 in regular pay. In 2015, overtime was $2,587,371.02 and regular pay was $22,303,332.61, according to city payroll records.

In 2016, nine fire department crew members earned more than $20,000 in overtime. In 2015, 35 people earned more than $20,000 in overtime.

Fire Chief Joe Formhals, who had not yet spoken with Shanahan when reached for comment Friday morning, said the fire department uses overtime often – whether it be to fill in for those with injuries, those who are sick or those on vacation – when there aren’t enough “floater” individuals available.

It allows the department to “backfill” positions on trucks and ambulances.

Formhals said he and his administration will be looking at staffing levels to try to make the proper adjustments to alleviate some of the overtime, as well as some of the deficit.

“We’re gonna try to work with them,” Formhals said of the city administration. “It’s going to be difficult, but we will try the best we can. It’s a big hole to fill, the deficit the city manager is forecasting because of the state.”

The department with the third-most overtime is utilities, with $1,046,445.64 in 2016. Director of Utilities Jim Eggen did not return a call seeking comment.

The fourth-most is the Public Works Department with $697,110.03 of overtime in 2016. Director of Public Works Jim Trizna did not want to comment.

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