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Police, Fire Departments Face High Overtime Expenses

Health problems and early retirements have placed a higher demand on remaining public safety employees.

Police, Fire Departments Face High Overtime Expenses

The Buffalo Grove and are taking unusual measures this year to operate under balanced budgets despite facing unexpected overtime expenses in recent months.

Both departments are understaffed, Police Chief Steve Balinski and Fire Chief Terry Vavra told village officials during an Aug. 20 committee of the whole meeting. The manpower shortages are due to illnesses, injuries and buyouts, they said.

Remaining staff members have had to pick up the slack for seven patrol officers, resulting in unbudgeted overtime expenses, Balinksi said. While the department is expected to end the year about $10,000 above its overtime budget, total department expenditures are anticipated to come in $50,000 to $60,000 under budget for 2012, he said.

In addition to day-to-day expenses, special events like Buffalo Grove Days, weather-related disasters, training and high-profile crimes can take a toll on the police department’s budget, said Deputy Chief Steve Husak. This year, the department will bring in auxiliary officers from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department to handle traffic control at Buffalo Grove Days.

Meanwhile, the fire department is facing $700,000 in overtime costs this year — nearly twice the $357,000 budgeted for extra hours.

That’s because the department is down six employees, Vavra said. Three open positions will be filled in September, and three more will start work in November, he said.

Members of the remaining staff, including the chief and other administrators, have volunteered their time to help cover the manpower shortage, Vavra said, which has saved the department about $56,000. As a result, the department is just .07 percent over its annual budget to date. 

“I’d be way off on the budget if it wasn’t for them,” Vavra said.

He said the new hires will be “intelligent, quality people” who have already made strong impressions on the department. Of the 302 candidates who took the fire department’s test, 23 earned perfect scores on the written exam, he said. 

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