City council offers $450K to add 6 new Scottsdale fire fighters

Scottsdale City Council has approved a $450,000 General Fund contingency transfer for operations at the Scottsdale Fire Department to pay salaries for six new firefighter positions.

At its Nov. 28 regular meeting, Scottsdale City Council approved the staff budget transfer request by a measure of 6 to 1 with Scottsdale Councilman David Smith dissenting.

“The fire department has an ‘operational staffing requirement’ of 613,200 hours to provide the city of Scottsdale with its emergency services,” said Ryan Freeburg, executive assistant fire chief, in a Nov. 28 report to city council. “The current workforce assigned to ‘operations’ provides the fire department 579,123 hours of actual service after they have used their leave.”

In fiscal year 2016-17 Scottsdale Fire Department employees used 116,429 hours of leave, Mr. Freeburg’s report states.

“This is the equivalent of 40 employees needed to cover leave hours and we currently have 29 employees to cover this leave,” Mr. Freeburg said. “Based on the current employment count, there is currently a projected gap of 34,077 hours between the fire department’s ‘operational staffing requirement’ and ‘actual workforce hours’ provided by the employee.”

Mr. Freeburg contends those numbers equate to an estimated $1.43 million in overtime charges pending this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2017.

Over the last five years the Scottsdale Fire Department has been operating at a negative General Fund operational variance of $602,542, which has created a constant flow of staff vacancies due to various degrees of leave allowances for employees.

“During the same five-year timeframe, the fire department workforce assigned to ‘operations’ have averaged an annual increase in leave used of 10.9 percent,” Mr. Freeburg said.

“Based on our current workforce and operational deployment assessment, our department will continue to see employee leave use increase with commensurate increase to the fire department’s reliance on overtime funds with an end of fiscal year projected negative variance request of $975,000 if we do nothing.”

Fire department officials say the hiring of six new firefighters would likely bring down negative General Fund variance tallies from $975,000 to about $600,000.

The ongoing cost to fully fund salary and benefits for the six firefighter position will be about $425,000 and will provide an additional 17,472 hours to meet operational standards defined by city leaders, Mr. Freeburg says.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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