STOW — City Council has approved the addition of more money to the overtime budgets for the police and fire departments to prevent any shortfall due to overtime usage this year.

Police Chief Jeff Film asked for and received an additional $100,000 to his department’s 2018 overtime budget of $350,000. According to Stow Finance Director John Baranek, the police department had used $286,669 of its 2018 overtime budget as of Sept. 30. There are 41 officers in the Stow Police Department, including the chief.

" …  Sixty-one percent of the overtime money spent (so far this year) was just on shift coverage," the police chief told council members Thursday. He reported one officer has been on light duty since September 2017; another was on light duty due to pregnancy and then extended leave after childbirth; a male officer also took off an extended period after the birth of a child; and still another officer left the department. 

Fire Chief Mark Stone said the fire department was allocated $272,000 for overtime in 2018. Stone recently requested that an additional $100,000 be added to the fire department’s overtime account. City Council authorized that request last month. Baranek said the fire department had used $254,691 of its 2018 overtime budget as of Sept. 30.

According to the fire chief, his department has experienced "an atypical year for us as far as overtime is concerned," noting, "in recent years, I’ve only requested $10,000 – $15,000 at the end of the year to carry us." Stone said more overtime was required due to some retirements and some work-related injuries. The department has had two vacancies since last fall, the fire chief said, and an unexpected third vacancy occurred this spring. Although an entry-level test was conducted in early January, Stone said delays occurred in the hiring process and it wasn’t until June that two firefighters were hired. Currently Stow has 53 firefighters, including the chief. Most are assigned to line duties. Some staff are assigned to fire prevention and administrative duties.

"I expect that once we are again at full staffing, we will see a great reduction in the use of overtime funds," Stone told the Stow Sentry.

Baranek said the appropriations for the police overtime will come out of the city’s General Fund, while those for the fire department will come from the General Fund and the EMS/Fire Levy Fund. Money to pay for the overtime will come mostly from the unspent funds generated by vacancies throughout the year, according to Baranek.

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, ewalsh@recordpub.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.