Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Doing It In Your Sleep

You would think that it gets boring after a bit.

It is becoming a pre-spring ritual. The same questions, the same answers. Year after year. Nothing ever seems to change. And taxpayers always pay.

I compared the stories in the Star in 2007 and 2008 about the Police members being paid over $100K and was struck by the similarities even though there is a new Chief.

Hmmm, I wonder if there is a media guide that is passed from Chief to Chief for them or their spokespeople to use or one prepared by their Association for the Chiefs.

I found it interesting as well that the 2008 headline picked up on a comment from the Treasurer in 2007. Check out the comparison below.

Interestingly, in 2006, it was overtime that was the big factor explaining the numbers:

  • "It's for overtime ... the bulk of that would be court time," said department spokesman Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton. The four constables, one of whom made more than $110,000 -- 52 per cent above the base salary of a first class constable with 10 years seniority - - were in patrol and drug enforcement.

    "It's hard-earned overtime, I'll tell you that," said McNorton. Overtime can be taken in cash or time-in-lieu, he said, adding earnings made from off-duty work such as at downtown clubs on weekends are not part of the Sunshine reporting requirements."

And in 2005

  • "With the exception of the top management echelons, almost all the department's top earners get their regular paycheques boosted by overtime expenses while working on murder and other big cases, as well as for attending court.

    "We had some significant investigations last year," said Stannard...

    Department spokesman Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton said a "slew of things" contributed to so many local police joining the $100,000 club, including officers testifying in court and recent "significant raises" in salaries. An officer called in for court duty on his or her day off, for example, is paid double-time, with a minimum of three hours per morning and afternoon appearances."

However, probably due to inexperience, the new Police Chief may have cost his Department dearly and for that Fire Chief Dave Fields should be grateful for being taught how to make up a budget.

Do you remember the big deal that was made when the Fire Department was attacked for all of the overtime hours? Dave almost lost his job over it!
  • "The city will spend about $800,000 in overtime pay to cover sick days this year, which is about $300,000 more than the fire department budgeted for in 2005. Windsor firefighters work two, 24- hour shifts per week. If someone calls in sick for one shift, that amounts to half their week."
Dave's big mistake obviously was that he did not put in ENOUGH overtime funds in his Budget. Compare that with the Police Dept. who obviously build it into what they think they need:
  • "Smith said he wasn't concerned about the number of high-earners in the police department, saying the salaries were within budget and consistent with inflation rates."

No fuss or muss with the Police Budget, no headlines, no demands for an investigation or audit as with the Fire Depoartment:

  • "City council will meet behind closed doors Monday with a consultant who conducted an audit of the fire department's operations. The consultant's goal was to review department procedures and policies to find savings. Hopefully, the consultant comes up with a plan to end this sick-day boondoggle. "
Poor Councillor Halberstadt who in his recent BLOG says he is still waiting for former Chief Stannard to supply
  • "a [2007] police budget, or even an executive summary of a [2007] police budget (which I had indicated would have sufficed), to this day. "

Mind you, the Councillor does remind us that

  • "Windsor Police Services Board, [is] chaired by Mayor Francis, does not supply Council with the police budget."
Just imagine how much extra work that would be for everyone to go through such a big budget line by line as is being proposed for the Library of which Alan is the Chair. Alan should be thanking the Mayor for not letting anyone see the budget so that they can enjoy their March break!

So Chief Fields, learn from the Police how to budget overtime properly. Take the hit once a year in the media when your Budget comes out, have your standard list of answers prepared for the standard media questions and the issue will be over until the next year.