Gettysburg Borough Council President Wesley Heyser said that although the borough had routinely run a budget surplus over the past years, there had nevertheless been “significant overruns in personnel spending, significantly in overtime.”
“I was shocked when we got to budget season and I realized how much we were going over. I don’t really want to be here in this circumstance, but when I look at the expenditures year after year we have to be,” he said.
Heyser said the borough was in the process of creating a comprehensive method for dealing with the issue because it does not currently have a mechanism for sharing spending information with the council.
The council said it would develop benchmarks and metrics for tracking spending. The policies would be in place for all departments, but the focus is on police spending.
Police Chief Robert Glenny expressed frustration with the borough’s accounting. Glenny said he was trying to save money but that there were contractual obligations that required overtime pay.
Glenny said he was unsure why the full-time staff payroll was over budget. “I am the only department head that runs a 24/7/365 organization. I track these things; I bring them to my supervisor; I bring them to the manager,” he said. “I have tracked overtime for 2 years. I know where we’re spending it. The very things I pointed to for a guide are not accurate,” he said.
Councilmember Matt Moon said the council understood the “practical reality” facing the police and said the borough was looking for more transparency in the budgeting process.
“We would be requiring to know staff scheduling ahead of time. We’d like the time cards to reflect the hours worked so we can get a better sense of what’s going on in these departments,” said Moon.
Glenny said not all police schedules were made public. “There’s bad people out there who try to gauge when policemen are working,” he said
Moon said the council would create a way to link payroll with budgeting. “We’re going to come up with a tool as a team. The goal is not to create more work for the staff,” he said.
“I probably interact with the police more than many and I did not know for months that we had an on-duty injury. There is no question that the borough has the right to set policy. We work in a budget that’s based in dollars. In the end of the day the council is the body that’s responsible to taxpayers. We’re having difficulty achieving that responsibility,” said Heyser.
Borough Manager Charles Gable said part of the problem was related to vacation payouts at the end of the year that occur when employees are not afforded the time to take the vacations they have been afforded. Gable said the council makes their budgets assuming officers would take vacation during the year, but then has to pay out with a “cash equivalent” for officers who did not use their vacations.
Heyser said the council would reconsider the issue after collecting more information at a March meeting.
The next regularly scheduled borough council meeting will be on Monday March 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the borough office.