Kauai Fire Department seeks more overtime funds


LIHUE, Kauai— The Kauai Fire Department is seeking a 22 percent increase in overtime funds for the upcoming fiscal year, saying some of the increase is required for the county to comply with collective-bargaining agreements.

The department spent more than $1.1 million on overtime during the 2013 fiscal year, The Garden Island reported. Officials are now asking for $1.4 million in overtime expenses for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“Fiscally, I think overall, we’ve done a really good job at managing the budget that is presented to us,” deputy Fire Chief John Blalock said at a county Cost Control Commission meeting Monday.

The Fire Department is proposing a total budget of $25.5 million, compared with the last budget of $22.4 million. County departments are fine-tuning their anticipated financial needs before the County Council votes on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Blalock said his department’s overtime expenses are divided into two categories. One pays for full-time employees who work more than 40 hours, and the other pay is mandated by employee contracts for workers who are scheduled to work on holidays, he said.

Increasing overtime costs also may be attributed to a training program for specific employees, he said. The program is designed to increase continuity when leave is taken by ranked personnel. Program participants are allowed 12 overtime days each year, according to Blalock.

Other overtime costs are unavoidable. Blalock said a large-scale rescue of 121 stranded hikers at Hanakapiai last week is an example of that.

“The crew that was on that day, we held them back, and they went out early the next day as well,” he said. “Because they knew most of the situation that they encountered, they got paid overtime for that work.”