Before passing the 2012-13 budget, the East Peoria City Council passed two resolutions Feb. 21 that could potentially give the city some financial flexibility.
The council moved to increase the number of firefighters in the department in order to attempt to reduce the amount of overtime paid to members of the East Peoria department.
Two firefighters were actually hired at the meeting, one to fill the vacancy with the departmental increase and one to fill a vacancy caused by a recent retirement.
“We have relatively high overtime costs within the fire department and naturally that means we have a lot of firefighters working a lot,” City Commissioner Chad Joos said.
“The thought behind this (resolution) is that we are adding a probationary firefighter with the expectation that our overtime costs are a significantly higher cost than other probationary firefighters’ pay, reducing our overall employee expense within the fire department,” he added.
Both the increase in firefighters and the two hires were approved on votes of 4-0.
Commissioner Dan Decker, a member of the department, abstained from voting on both measures.
The two firefighters hired are Bradley Reinhart and Randall Mahring, and both are expected to officially join the department by June.
Commissioner Gary Densberger said he was hesitant about the additional hire, and added that the council would be monitoring the savings from the additional staff member.
“Ordinarily over our budget stance, I would not be in favor of adding staff, but after speaking with Commissioner Joos and at length with (Fire) Chief (Bill) Darin, the data provided supports the premise that adding this firefighter will be more than paid for in reduction of overtime,” he said.
“We’ll have to keep a close eye on how this works,” Densberger added.
“ If the position is not paid for a year from now with overtime, I think we should look at a retraction.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved amendments to the city’s engineering contracts with Midwest Engineer Associates for the Target, Costco, Civic Plaza and Altorfer Extension projects in the downtown development.