LS City Finance And Budget Committee Reviews City Staff Pay Plan, Fire Department EMS Calls And Overtime Costs

By Leilani Haywood
Tribune Reporter

LS City Council Finance and Budget Committee Chairman Bob Johnson wanted to know why the City of Lee’s Summit has four city managers when the city of Overland Park, Kansas has one city manager and a deputy city manager. This was one of the questions asked at the LS City Council Finance and Budget Committee meeting on May 14, 2018. Chairman Johnson presided over the meeting reviewing the city’s staff plan, fire department requests and emergency services calls as well as overtime costs. Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez and Councilmembers Trish Carlyle and Phyllis Edson were also at the meeting.

Chairman Johnson said he mentioned Overland Park, KS and Springfield, MO because both cities were larger than Lee’s Summit and have one city manager and one deputy city manager while Lee’s Summit has four city managers. Johnson added that he needed to ask that question and wondered if there were vacancies that needed to be filled such as the Management Analyst position.

Interim Human Resources Director Jackie McCormick gave a presentation reviewing the fiscal 2019 pay plan, staffing and vacancies. McCormick said there were 636 full-time City employees but didn’t know the number of vacancies. When Johnson asked about her position, she told the committee that she was serving when she could in her former position as chief counsel of management operations and deputy city attorney.

McCormick also reviewed the City’s overtime policy with the committee. The City has spent $2.3 million paying for overtime in 2017 and $3 million in 2018. Most of the overtime was taken in the Police and Fire departments. In 2017, the city paid $501,980.30 in overtime for Police Administration and $290,850.22 for Police Patrol. The Fire Department incurred approximately $1.1 million in overtime according to the presentation.

McCormick said some of the positions were receiving grant funding and those additional monies weren’t reflected in the overtime costs. An example is some of the overtime in the police department was being paid for by grant funding. “There are occasions and instances where we have programs and initiatives like that where overtime does occur but it’s not a direct hit to the city’s funds,” said McCormick.

Edson asked if salaried employees were eligible for overtime. McCormick said salaried employees, which are exempt are not eligible for overtime, but hourly employees qualify for overtime pay. Johnson said he didn’t think the council could address overtime pay in this fiscal year. Lopez agreed and said, “I think you’re correct and the idea is to get the information, but I think looking at the bigger picture here the way we have to go let’s address this budget here as we then head into this next year and then we need to roll up our sleeves as a group and address all these issues long-term.”

The committee also reviewed the Fire Department’s communications center as well as ambulance costs and fees. LS Fire Chief Rick Poeschl said that the Fire Department not only serves Lee’s Summit but has contracts with eight other agencies. “It’s very busy in the communications center,” he said. “They are overworked, we need to expand to four (dispatchers) maximum, three minimum per shift.” The Fire Department generates $307,000 in revenue from their contracts.

The Fire Department’s Communications Center’s operating costs is shared at 55 percent from the city and 45 percent from contracted agencies. Calls have increased by 36 percent for contracted agencies from 2013 to 2017. “We’re looking at a phased approach for adding new dispatchers,” said Nick Edwards, assistant city manager. The requested six new dispatchers would require an additional $343,000.

Poeschl said the revenue generated from the contracts would require an additional $174,000 to stay within the 45 percent formula. Edwards reviewed cost recovery options with the committee such as basing cost on a percentage of the municipality’s levy or a municipal bill. “With a levy you pay $100,000 and may only receive $50,000 of usage.” said Edwards.

LS City Manager Steve Arbo added that there isn’t a correlation between use of the dispatching center and the value of property. Instead, the use of services should correlate with what they pay. Edwards said a next step is to bring a resolution to establish cost recovery options for review and discussion with the committee. The next Finance and Budget meeting is set for May 21, 2018 at 4 pm.