TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Terre Haute Fire Department is hundreds of thousands of dollars over its 2019 budget, something the city council said is becoming a pattern.
Fire Chief Jeff Fisher cited a need for more firefighters as a cause for the budget woes when questioned during Thursday’s Terre Haute City Council meeting.
“This year, we budgeted $518,000,” Fisher said. “We were hoping that we were going to be able to maintain that level, but we are not.”
Overtime costs added more than $700,000 to the department’s expenditures.
“If somebody is off sick, vacation, personal days or whatever, we have to fill that. So we have to call in overtime,” he explained.
After a long night of discussion with the city council, the overtime was approved; however, council members are still concerned about the pattern.
“In my time on council I haven’t seen any other agency have the kinds of issues with overtime that the fire department has,” City Council President Martha Crossen said.
Crossen added that it’s uncommon for this issue to be brought to council annually.
For the past decade, the fire station’s expenditures have been well over budget every year with the exception of 2017.
The council voted Thursday to transfer $400,000 from other budgets to help cover the fire department’s overtime costs.
“I do think they have some special circumstances, but I do think it’s something that we need to get a little tighter control on.”
Fisher said he is working with Mayor Duke Bennett to hire more firefighters, which will cut down on the overtime costs.
“We are in discussions with the mayor now trying to figure out what’s our number that we want to hire. Is it going to be 12, is it going to be 16, is it going to be 10? We’re discussing that with the mayor,” he said.
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