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Ashland spends nearly $17,000 in overtime police costs amid staffing shortage


The City of Ashland has spent $16,332.67 on police overtime costs so far in Fiscal Year 2024.

This is about half the amount of money the city has budgeted for overtime, according to City Administrator Kyle Michel. The department has also logged 497 overtime hours. Fiscal Year 2024 began on May 1 and ends on April 30, 2024.

In September, the city had only spent $9,000. A previous records request found that $10,815.66 was spent on overtime costs in fiscal year 2023, when only 259 hours of overtime were logged.

Records show $5,932.23 was spent in fiscal year 2022 for 129 hours, and $7,676.59 was spent in fiscal year 2021. However, the total amount of overtime hours was not available for 2021.

Interim Police Chief Scott Young told ABC 17 News that steps are being taken to help with costs. Young noted that since he began working as chief in July, the department has hired three new officers, which he said should help put an ease to the growing number of hours and costs.

"When we add more people, we can cover our hours," Young said. "No unnecessary hours with people working straight pay instead of time and a half."

Young also said that on average, officers are working about 10 hours of overtime per two week pay cycle. This is down from the 40 overtime hours per pay period officers were working over the summer, according to Young.

Michel said in an email that the costs are necessary to ensure the area is covered during peak hours.

"Yes, obviously there is always concerns about overtime spending and lack of officers. We’ve been below our budgeted roster size for about a year now. With that reality comes scheduling changes to ensure we’re keeping coverage where we can and during peak hours," Michel wrote. "The majority of our overtime stems from an on call system we’re currently operating to ensure we have police available to respond outside of regular staffed shift hours. Officers receive straight 2 hours of pay during on call periods plus callout pay if they’re required to respond to a call while in on call status. This is slowly changing as we adjust our shifts and reduce on call coverage. Most call outs while on call will soon result in simple shift swings that reduce the need to pay out overtime for those call outs."

Young said despite the recent hires made within the department, an additional two patrol officers are needed in order for them to be fully staffed. This would allow the department to have better coverage, as two officers could work at the same time during peak hours, according to Young. It would also give the department more flexibility when it comes to training.

Despite an increase in funds spent on overtime, Young said staffing issues are an issue for police departments nationwide. He also noted that the department is actively looking to hire the two additional officers, but that money will always have to be put toward overtime.

"Because if you paid zero overtime, ultimately you'd be spending more money total because that means you probably got too many police officers," Young said.

Michel said he hopes the city can fill the two positions before the end of this fiscal year.

Article Topic Follows: Ashland

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Nia Hinson


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