on March 21, 2012 by admin in Cleveland, Comments (0)

Cleveland City Council to discuss fire dept. audit Wednesday morning

CLEVELAND - On Wednesday, Cleveland City Council’s Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing to review and discuss the Phase II Payroll Audit Report on the Cleveland Division of Fire.

According to a release from city council, Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin Flask, and Cleveland Fire Chief Paul Stubbs, will brief the committee on the most recent audit findings and the action steps that will be taken to correct various problems and concerns that were identified in the audit report. Manager of the Division of Internal Audit Frank Badalementi will also be present to brief the committee and answer questions.

Last week city leaders released a second audit of the department suggesting as many as 200 firefighters (a quarter of the department) may have worked the system for years. Among the findings, sick-time records of some fire division employees were never adequately kept and some shift trades were not documented.

Cleveland Firefighters Association Local 93 released the following statement after the release of the second audit:

We have reviewed the internal audit the City of Cleveland released today relative to trades of time, overtime, and the use of sick time by the members of the Cleveland Division of Fire, who are represented by the Association of Cleveland Firefighters, IAFF Local 93.

The internal audit is a tool of management, used to identify issues with policies created by management and circumvent the collective bargaining process. Many of the issues raised were addressed in the agreement reached between the city and the fire fighters in February. Beyond that, the audit's conclusions are based on speculative interpretation of numbers, not on hard evidence.

A fire fighter has a physically and mentally demanding job. Our members do not set City policies; they follow orders. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to effectuate rescues and mitigate the emergencies we confront on a daily basis.

The audit continues to suggest trades of time cost the city money. Trades are cost neutral. The city complains about overtime, forgetting Chief Stubbs' budget that would have drastically reduced overtime and averted layoffs was rejected. Unlike trades, layoffs do create overtime. Perhaps this should have been considered when budgeting for the Division of Fire.

The audit notes that the Fire Department funeral and sick leave policies differ from other city departments. These policies are part of the collective bargaining agreement with the city, an agreement signed by Director Flask and Mayor Jackson.

The findings of the audit are largely a failure of management. The city repeatedly refused to act on the recommendations of previous internal audits. Local 93 has urged the city to modernize its record keeping system for years.

The Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters stands ready to address management's issues in the appropriate format. These repeated attacks on our members are a disservice to the men and women who risk their lives to protect this city every day.

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Article source: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/cleveland_metro/cleveland-city-council-to-discuss-fire-dept-audit-wednesday-morning

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