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Public Safety Chiefs: cutting overtime easier said than done

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica's Common Council members believe they've found a way to get the mayor's proposed 3.75% tax increase down to, or even slightly below, the state-imposed 2% cap.

The council did this in part by asking all nearly all city departments to cut their overtime budgets by 10%. The move would most severely impact public safety and public works.

Utica's police and fire chiefs say it's easier said than done.

"Right now, on paper, I have 163 officers, but in actual working bodies, I have 144," says Police Chief Mark Williams. "When you still have the same amount of work or more work coming in, and you do it with less personnel, it's almost impossible to meet those demands."

Utica's fire chief says he appreciates the council's diligent efforts to improve the budget, but says it's a mathematical impossibility-adhering to the department's minimum manning clause while cutting overtime by 10%.

"We have a minimum manning clause; we have to have 24 people a day on duty. Last year, I had 135 on staff. This year, I have 107 on staff so it just stands to reason that you have to staff with overtime," says Fire Chief Russell Brooks.

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