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Burbank and Spending on Overtime

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The Burbank City Council this week adopted a “needs-based” staffing policy that staff members said will reduce unnecessary overtime for municipal workers. Meanwhile, many residents asked council members about the city’s finances.

Management Services Director Betsy McClinton said that the policy, which the council unanimously approved during its virtual meeting on Tuesday, will give the city the flexibility to hire more or fewer staff members depending on need, or have more staff in communities that require it. The policy is also expected to help cut down on overtime.

It is unknown how much money would be saved by the new policy, according to McClinton, who said that the city spent nearly $7.2 million from the general fund on overtime in fiscal year 2018-19.

In accordance with California law, the city must meet with its labor groups before the new policy can be implemented, she said during the meeting. Her staff report to the council did not mention which employees might be affected by the policy.

The approval of the new policy was preceded by the passing of a resolution that would require city employees hired before 2013 to begin paying half of the annual costs of their pensions, as workers hired during or after 2013 are. McClinton estimated in her staff report that the additional contribution from employees would result in savings of just over $1.2 million.

However, the policy’s approval is subject to a secret ballot election among the employees affected. The city staff expects that the measure will pass, according to the staff report.

Much of the council meeting, including public comment, related to city finances.

Linda Bessin questioned the efficacy of the aid programs that council members later approved in the meeting. She questioned whether the money, which will go to low-income renters and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, was sufficient to address their need. (See related story on Page 1.)

“Tonight, Burbank is finally taking steps to address the economic hardships our city has sustained due to the COVID-19 crisis,” Bessin said by phone during the meeting. “However, upon review of the material presented by staff, it appears that there are too many questions that remain unanswered.”

Bessin has announced on social media that she is running for council, and made a public comment during the prior council meeting to push the city to quantify the coronavirus’ impact on the local economy.

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