The city of Fulton has given the state Attorney General’s office the records requested as part of the office’s investigation into alleged pension padding.
“We’ve got everything we could get for him and we sent it to him,” said Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward, referring to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo this week.Â “We haven’t heard any more.”
Cuomo announced recently a widening of his office’s investigation of public employee pensions.Â He said that it could possibly be illegal for an employee to work sharply higher amounts of overtime in his final years on the job in order to create a significant increase in his pension.
Cuomo asked for overtime and pension data from Fulton, along with the city of Oneida and town of Manlius.
Woodward recently pushed back against Cuomo’s stand, saying that if Cuomo really wanted to protect taxpayers, all he had to do was “change the damn law.”
Woodward argues that state pension law allows workers to increase their pensions by working lots of overtime.Â The problem would be solved, he said, if pensions were only based on a worker’s base salary, not on his salary plus overtime.
He also said that local governments are at a disadvantage when it comes to trying to make changes to union contracts.Â The truism is that once a right is granted in a contract, it’s almost impossible to get it out.
Fulton spends nearly $700,000 on overtime for its police and fire departments.Â Taxpayers do not pay all of that; some police department overtime for special projects, such as DWI checkpoints, quality of life patrols and aggressive driving efforts, is paid for through grants.
But much of the city’s overtime relates to contract clauses mandating a minimum number of firefighters and police officers to be on duty at any given time.
The situation is particularly acute in the fire department because firefighters work 24 hour days.Â That means that if a firefighter calls in sick, takes a vacation , or is out with an injury, his replacement gets 24 hours of overtime per day.
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