Fire Audit resolution for June 15

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Fire Audit resolution for June 15

Postby Jimmy Flannigan » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:29 pm

Below is a resolution I will be sponsoring with CMs Alter, Troxclair, and the Mayor for June 15th. Posting this to the message board two weeks before the meeting to give ample time for feedback. As noted in the final paragraph, the Auditor's Office may bring back results in parts as relevant or possible. As such, the timing requirement may change as we work with staff on expectations prior to the council meeting.

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Whereas, the safety of our community and of our public safety officers is of utmost importance,

Whereas, Austin Fire Department budget appropriation overages driven by overtime have been a reoccurring issue since 2015, including $2,400,000 in FY 2015 and $3,600,000 in FY 2016, both covered by real time unplanned inter-departmental savings transfers from other departments.

Whereas, a $3,000,000 increase in AFD base budget in FY 2017 was incorporated in order to accommodate the anticipated overtime needs; and,

Whereas, on May 18, 2017 the City Council amended the City's General Fund Operating Budget by $3,500,000 by transferring funds from the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund for unexpected overtime expenses of the Austin Fire Department above the already incorporated $3,000,000; and,

Whereas, the City of Austin Financial Policies meant to protect the City of Austin’s bond rating, specifically state that the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund may be appropriated to fund one-time and capital expenses, and the history of the fire overtime spending indicates an ongoing fiscal request; and,

Whereas, the excess to the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund of $6,132,033 represents Council’s primary opportunity to appropriate one-time funding needs, and the May 18, 2017 $3,500,000 budget amendment represents more than half of the excess to the reserve thus leaving Council with a diminished funding capacity for necessary expenditures in the 2017-2018 budget; and,

Whereas, the ongoing need for overtime for the Austin Fire Department is complex accounted for due to an extraordinarily high number of vacancies of sworn personnel; and,

Whereas, vacancies and the need for overtime have remained high over the past two fiscal years, yet the average hourly overtime rate has increased significantly over the same time period; and,

Whereas, it serves the City of Austin and its taxpayers best when we have a fire department that provides the best public safety possible while also utilizing tax dollars in the most responsible way; and,

Whereas, responsible spending of all City departmental funds, including the Budget Stabilization Reserve Fund should be fully transparent to the Austin City Council and taxpayers; and,

Whereas, the current City Council has a unique opportunity due to the timing of the public safety contract negotiations and the annual budget approval process to improve the long term sustainability of our public safety spending commitments;

Now Therefore Be It Resolved By the City Council of the City of Austin

The City Auditor is directed to amend the City Auditor's Fiscal Year 2017 Audit Plan to include an audit of the Austin Fire Department overtime. The audit should include but not be limited to:
- How provisions in the Austin Fire Department Collective Bargaining agreement affect the department’s overtime expenditures and/or total personnel expenditures.
- What operational policies, staffing models, rules or practices, currently used are the main drivers of the Austin Fire Department overtime.
- What factors have contributed to the increase in the average per hour overtime rate for the past several years.
- How are shift-trades and overtime requests among sworn firefighters structured, requested, accepted and monitored.

The City Auditor shall report back by <Date TBD> for use during the 2017 Austin Fire Department Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and annual budget process. The audit may be completed in phases as per the time sensitive nature of the work.
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6
Jimmy Flannigan
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:44 am

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