Bellevue-Dayton Firefighters Want Settlement Money from Cities, Dayton Mayor "Tired of Getting Beat Up"
Discussions were held at the Bellevue-Dayton Fire Board meeting on Wednesday about how the cities' firefighters are owed over $176,000 in back pay due to a complicated lawsuit that began with Louisville firefighters who sued that city for not paying overtime correctly. Those firefighters had filed a complaint about the overtime issue with the state Labor Cabinet in 2000, and shortly thereafter, the Dayton and Bellevue fire departments followed suit and sued their own cities.
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet ruled in favor of the firefighters, but Bellevue and Dayton have been reluctant to pay despite being issued letters ordering them to, and threats of liens on their property, according to Firefighter Brian Boyers.
He explained that because the suit predates the merger of the two fire departments, the cities have filed a counter-suit to the claim. Boyers claims that the department believes the City of Dayton paid there employees illegally when they paid back pay on a 1099 tax form. He says the act is illegal because it does not properly allocate the money towards taxes and retirement accounts.
Previously, the firefighters union and the City of Dayton agreed to terms on a settlement that included a memorandum of understanding that the firefighters would get certain percentage raises over a three-year time frame and 25 percent of the back pay owed to them. That agreement broke down, however, when the city insisted on paying the firefighters with a 1099.
Boyers is concerned that the fire board is without a plan to pay their owed employees.
“I just don't want to see our fire chief have to look at that bill and say 'How am I going to pay this?”, and (the fire board) say 'How are we going to pay this?' and the city say 'Well, we ain't got no money',” Boyers said. “Where is the money coming from?”
He's concerned that the board will use the department's budget for the pay which would further strain an already depleted fund.
'We have to figure out how to do it and how to do it responsibly and not crush the fire department's budget,” he told the board. “Obviously we don't want to see our department hurt. We don't want to see our cities hurt, but we need a plan of how we're going to pay them.”
The Bellevue-Dayton fire department is the last in the state to either settle or receive their pay out.
Dayton Mayor "tired of getting beat up"
In attendance at the Fire Board meeting was Dayton Mayor, Ken Rankle, who expressed his displeasure with the fire department after select firefighters accused him of bullying and insulting the department.
“I'm getting a little tired of getting beat up,” Rankle said. “
(SEE PREVIOUSLY: Dayton Mayor Apologizes but Says Firefighters are Politically Motivated)
One of the accusing fireman was Chuck Enzweiler who accused the mayor of keeping a black list.
“I haven't talked with him in over a year," said Rankle. “I've done my best to avoid him in any kind of confrontation.”
Fire department volunteer Mark Tumler said Rankle had used his leverage with the Housing Authority board to keep him from being evicted, then said he felt Rankle was holding the favor over his head. Rankle remained very positive toward Tumler in the fire board meeting on Wednesday.
“When it comes to Mr. Tumler, he was going to be evicted from the housing authority, I asked the housing authority board to cut this guy a break. Let's help him out. He's the last volunteer we have, I believe. Guy works his tail end off, he's a good guy. I didn't ask him to vote for me, I didn't ask him to buy me a coke, I didn't ask him to buy me a hotdog, I didn't ask him for a thing other than to give me his support. I think the guy is good and I think he could be a fireman.”
No one responded to Rankle's statements on the matter. Rankle's opponent in the November election, Dayton City Council Virgil Boruske, is chairman of the Fire Board.
There was also much discussion concerning debt collection of emergency calls that required an EMT run. The fire department bills both residents and non-residents the charge for emergency runs, and whatever is not cleared through either insurance companies or Medicaid or Medicare becomes the financial responsibility of the individual that required emergency care. The hard-billing policy of the fire department concerning non-residents of the cities of Bellevue and Dayton is that the patient will receive three notices of the bill before turning the debts over to a collection agency. Residents will also receive a bill, but those accounts will not be turned over to collections. This they referred to as a soft bill. The department is apprehensive to hard bill residents of the two cities because they expressed a sensitivity toward the credit of the elderly that live there.
Written by Bryan Burke, RCN Associate Editor
Photo: Bellevue-Dayton Fire Truck/RCN file