Fulton city hall

FULTON, Ill. — Fulton Mayor Mike Ottens decreed Monday that the Fulton Police Department can schedule no overtime, a move he deemed necessary following a finance committee report that said the department will be nearly $100,000 over budget by the end of the year.

Fulton City Alderman and Finance Committee Chairman Dan Nederhoff said that the Fulton Police Department is averaging expenditures of about $50,000 over budget {span}over the past five years{/span}. At the current pace, the police department could be $100,00 over budget this year.

Finance Committee meeting minutes said the police department’s current budget is about $852,000. Based on year to date spending, the projected expenditures will be about $950,000.

The Committee said this level of overspending is not sustainable and needs to be addressed immediately. The city has other commitments, Nederhoff said, including roads and water and sewer.

“We can’t continue this route,” Nederhoff said. “We just cannot do this. We’ve been using up our cash reserves and selling off some real estate. That’s helped, but you can’t do that forever.”

Ottens said the police department may no long schedule overtime. Any overtime must be approved by Police Chief Bartels and City Administrator Randy Boonstra.

Ottens also requested that Bartels and Boonstra provide in every council packet the amounts of overtime paid for each pay period prior to the council meetings. This will let the the council know where the city stands in regard to overtime.

“I’m prepared to issue, and I do have the authority to issue, that there will be no police scheduled overtime,” Ottens said. “Scheduled overtime meaning that an officer’s on vacation, then they want to do a cover shift. You won’t be able to do that.”

Fulton Police Sgt. Dwayne Hamilton said the department was “inherently short” starting in October of last year. That caused overtime issues.

When the department sent Officer Jeremy Lietzen to the school resource program, the department was short two officers, Hamilton said. At that time the department didn’t have the staffing to cover shifts with even one officer.

The police department is back on par with staffing now, said Hamilton, and does not have scheduled overtime in the foreseeable future.

“In our department, to kind of help curtail the winter months, sometimes things slow down from October until about March [or] April,” Hamilton said.

“We’ve already built in our schedule that we don’t put any cover shifts on. We do run with one car during the nighttime hours to try and stave off some of that overtime unless it’s inherently impossible to do so,” said Hamilton.

Special events often require extra staffing, Hamilton said. “We obviously want to have an additional officer for a few hours during those times so we can make sure that we have someone to answer calls and someone to handle issues that may come out of those events.”

Bartels said that when officers take time off, the department uses two officers that day, except during the summer when the department tries to have the cover shift for several hours during Friday and Saturday nights. Otherwise, the department doesn’t have a cover shift if its not at the full six officers.

When all six officers are working, the department can run a cover shift, Bartels said.

Alderman Paul Banker suggested the city analyze the budget week by week and “figure out where the budget got lost.” Every other city department has more leeway to avoid overtime, he said.

“Somebody is causing the overtime,” Banker said. “If it’s something you’re doing, and you’re not doing it right, we should be able to figure that out going back week by week.

“If it’s things caused from injuries, whatever the case, we should be able to figure that out week by week,” Banker said. “It should not take us that long to do that.”