Emergency Personnel Want Less

1 decade 6 months 4 weeks ago Tuesday, May 15 2007 May 15, 2007 Tuesday, May 15, 2007 10:16:41 PM CDT May 15, 2007 in News

Now emergency personnel from around the state are willing to decline the extra pay to help their communities.

More than 100 policemen and firefighters rallied at the state capitol because they want a pay cut. Public safety officers used to get overtime after working 54 hours a week. Under the new law, time-and-a-half starts at 40 hours. This means a major addition to city budgets.

"Totalling the hundreds of thousands of dollars...And reaching millions," said Russ Mason of Central County Fire and Rescue.

The increase in wages could be a major burden for cities to cope with.

"Fire stations closing, fire fighters laid off, police officers laid off to compensate for the fact that we can't afford to pay overtime," St. Joseph Fire Chief Jack Brown said.

State represenatives have been sitting on a bill to roll back the overtime since Janunary. Emergency personnel from around the state were upset that when disasters were happening, like when the Missouri River flooded just last week, congressmen across the street were voting on things such as the state reptile and the state crustacean, instead of focusing on this very important piece of legislation. The delay may lead to a special session.

"If we can't get it done now, we need to take that into consideration. We don't want to put any city out of business," Rep. Martin T. Rucker said.

If the bill doesn't pass in 3 days, lawmakers may be forced into a special session. But if neither happen local fire houses and police stations may have to downsize.

"We could easily go to Illinois, Iowa...the bordering states. What would be left here, to keep us here?" Brown said.

Many cities around the state are withholding the overtime pay, pending the outcome of the bill.

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