Ocean City Today

Communication breaks down on union costs

True cost of IAFF deal still questioned with hidden costs of overtime, staff pay
By Katie Tabeling | Mar 30, 2017

(March 31, 2017) The ink is not even dry on the city’s contract with the fire union, but Councilman Wayne Hartman raised questions about its true fiscal impact during Tuesday’s work session.

In a larger discussion on Ocean City Fire Department’s facilities, Hartman said he learned from Fire Chief Chris Larmore that there were additional costs in the contract that he was unaware of, even though he was a member of the city’s collective bargaining team.

“What we gave the paid firefighters/EMTs, the command staff also gets. That’s a part of the equation that I didn’t know about, which is really bothersome to me. So, I question the real cost of this new contract,” he said.

Last week, city staff had reported that the fire union would see $337,721 in wage increases in the remaining two years and receive $50,000 bonus this October.

“What we didn’t see is that the firefighters were scheduled eight hours of overtime a week — five hours straight pay and three hours’ overtime. That’s an additional $66,912 of overtime,” Hartman said. “There’s also social security tax of $41,432.”

Hartman calculated the union contract’s total cost would be $582,757, somewhat different from the numbers than the council was expecting to work with in the fiscal year 2018 budget.

City Manager Doug Miller confirmed that he was aware of the additional costs in the contract.

Hartman held up the hidden expenses as another example where internal communication with the council had broken down.

“When we ask for the cost for something, I expect to get full disclosure of the cost of something. I question my fellow councilmembers to who knew and didn’t know,” he said.

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