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City of Spokane to audit $5 million in fire department overtime costs

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced Tuesday her office is cutting all non-essential expenses in the fire department for going over budget with overtime costs.

The city of Spokane will soon have to cover about $5 million in overtime costs from its fire department.

According to a release from the Spokane City Council office, the initial overtime estimate was $500,000 in August. This month the mayor’s office requested $5 million to cover overtime.

That cost was the result of an abnormally large number of sick leave requests in the months leading into the state’s vaccine mandate going into effect, and unfilled firefighter positions.

The City Council called on the mayor’s office to investigate the abnormally high labor costs.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward announced Tuesday that her office will hire a third-party to conduct a forensic audit into the fire department’s overtime issue.

She has also suspended all non-essential expenses, initiated an internal review of its budget, and a review of any leave practices the fire department has that are not outlined in its union contract.

She is also planning a fire academy in January to hire 20 firefighters in hopes of addressing overtime costs caused by the staff shortages.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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