Ocean City Today

Overtime investigations force new funding for fire marshal

After-hours calls blamed for overage; department spent $10K and needs $2K more
By Brian Gilliland | May 03, 2018
Jeff McMahon, county fire marshal

(May 4, 2018) With a spate of late-night calls apparently sucking the financial reservoir dry, Worcester County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon was forced to come before the county commissioners this week to ask for more money to pay employees.

The request was made of the current year’s budget, not the fiscal year 2019 version county staff and commissioners have been working on for the past couple of months.

McMahon said when he last appeared before the board making his budget presentation in early April, he had no reason to suspect the well would run dry before July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.

During that time, McMahon said, there had been five after-hours calls that had taken more than 14 hours to resolve.

However, he said, as of the pay period ending April 8, the overtime fund’s balance was $327.44.

On April 22, McMahon said the balance hit negative numbers.

The department was allocated $10,000 for the four-person office for fiscal 2018. McMahon said his office responded to 110 calls already this year, with 58 coming in after hours.

“You can’t control when the fire hits,” Commissioner Bud Church said.

Once on those calls, McMahon said his staff spent an average of 3.8 hours investigating the matter.

In addition, McMahon said those same four people have also already racked up 400 hours of compensatory time.

To cover the department for the rest of the year, McMahon asked the commissioners to allocate $2,000 to cover any additional overtime expenses.

McMahon said he probably has the money left over in fund balances from other areas of the budget, but with the end of year coming so soon, he wasn’t sure where he’d be transferring money from to cover the expense. This way, he explained, he could use the money to pay the overtime, and settle up the books at the end of the year normally.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plan.

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