By Charles Sercombe
Police Chief Max Garbarino wants the public to know that he is not getting any extra money to cut overtime.
That’s because it’s impossible to reduce overtime, he said.
Recently, a Fox television report noted that Garbarino’s employment contract gives him an extra $1,000 a month if he reduces overtime by 50 percent. The report said this is unusual since the city is in a financial emergency, and that there is concern Garbarino will put his paycheck ahead of the safety concerns of the community.
Garbarino told the reporter he would never compromise the city’s safety needs.
He told The Review that his department is understaffed and he has a hard enough time getting at least two-to-three officers to be on patrol per shift.
He said that being 10 officers short, there is no way he can reduce overtime.
“I’m not going to obtain it,” he said about receiving his incentive pay.
Garbarino’s contract was drawn up by Emergency Manager Cathy Square. She has been attempting to reduce the cost of overtime to the city.
Garbarino has been at odds with her, saying a key way to do that is to hire more officers.
Square told The Review that the city spent $600,000 on police overtime last year. She said 16 officers out of a total of 30, who are on special assignments, received 75 percent of the overtime.
“Max is a good chief, a good man, but he might need some management help,” Square said.
As for the number of officers in the department, she said the police officers’ union agreed to reduce the total number in the department during contract negotiations.
The issue of contracts seemed to get a number of city employees riled up this week.
The Review received a copy of a letter sent by city employees to the state Treasury Department complaining about a salary increase given to Margaret Scanio, who heads up the city’s Human Resources Department.
The writer of the letter, supposedly written on behalf of city employees, did not identify him or herself, saying it had to be done “under the cover of animosity.”
The writer apparently meant to say “anonymity,” and did so for fear of “retribution from an emergency manager that has chronically proven to us that she is incapable of doing what’s best for the city, its residents and the employees.”
The gist of the complaint against Scanio is that her salary was doubled from $38,000 to $67,500 for work that city employees say she is not qualified to do.
The employees also say that Scanio has committed numerous errors in her job as payroll clerk.
Square dismissed the complaint, saying Scanio has been criticized because she is insisting employees follow the rules of employment.
“She (Scanio) inherited a dysfunctional Human Resources Department,” Square said.
Square said that Scanio received a salary increase because she has been assigned more duties, such as overseeing IT services.
Square said that for too long bills have been paid without being reviewed first, including IT costs, which according to past invoices total up to over $80,000 a year.
The complaints, Square said, boil down to employees not liking being told to do things different from past experience.
Square said there is a reason why the city has experienced a financial crisis and required state intervention twice now.
“Dysfunction,” she said, is the root of the problem.
Since Square has started her one-year term as a state-appointed emergency manager last July, there have been complaints about her from city employees. But until this week, not much has been said publicly about Square’s performance.
Square is due to leave her post on July 1. She said she will still have a hand in the city’s financial decisions by sitting on a transition board that will have ultimate authority on management decisions.
Recently, the mayor and city council have complained about getting little input from Square during her stay here. But it was the mayor and council that also requested the state to appoint an emergency manager, admitting they could not get a handle on the city’s financial crisis.