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Woody: EMS overtime stems from scheduling

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By Damon Lawrence

Commissioners had questions at the Feb. 14 meeting about the amount of money that’s being spent on overtime in the Roane County ambulance department.      

“We have some overtime issues, but bear in mind part of our overtime is scheduled overtime for our employees when we hire them,” Roane County Executive Ron Woody explained.

From July 1 to Feb. 10, $316,171.66 was spent on overtime pay.

The ambulance department is facing some difficult times financially, and some commissioners have suggested that the overtime be reduced.

“We can say we’re not going to do any overtime,” Woody said. “That’s fine, but instead of paying a paramedic $12 an hour, we’re now fixing to have to pay them $16 or $18 an hour.”

Woody said for years the ambulance department has been using overtime as a benefit for employees.

“What has been done in our service and other services, when you go to a 24-on, 48-off shift, you guarantee eight hours overtime week one, eight hours overtime week two, 32 hours overtime week three,” he said.

“From that standpoint you program into everyone’s pay about 880 hours of overtime, so that $24,000 employee now makes $40,000.”

Woody said the problems with overtime stem from scheduling.   

“What we discovered on a number of employees is that W2 didn’t reflect $40,000 or $42,000,” he said. “That W2 reflected $48,000 to $52,000, so to us, that is a scheduling problem that we’re having to look at.”