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Barberton residents upset as city heads toward $1 million in overtime

Posted at 10:23 PM, Nov 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-11 23:19:30-05

BARBERTON, Ohio — Some Barberton residents and city leaders are concerned city overtime will likely balloon to $1 million in 2019, half of the overtime going to the fire department.

Barberton homeowner Robert Agustynovich said he was so upset about runaway city overtime and wrote a letter to the city fire chief.

Agustynovich said the current fire union contract, requiring nine firefighters on the job at all times, is partly to blame for increasing overtime costs.

“The future of Barberton, if things don’t change, is bankruptcy and this city is no longer the magic city,” Agustynovich said.

“It’s totally appalling and I hope they can get this contract right, when they’re negotiating it here."

Barberton Ward 1 Councilwoman Shannon Wokojance told News 5 the overtime problem was created because staffing levels, especially in the safety forces, haven't been maintained.

“Staffing levels are a huge issue in the City of Barberton,” Wokojance said.

“I’m concerned as well, but I do not believe we would have such a big expense in overtime if our fire department was fully staffed.”

“And if we have to cut in other areas, including the salaries of elected officials, then that’s something that we need to do.”

Wokojance said the city continues to lose tax base as major companies, like Babcock and Wilcox decide to move out.

News 5 reached out to Barberton Mayor William Judge for this story, but we're waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Agustynovich acknowledged the outstanding and important work done by firefighters, but believes changes in the fire union contract are needed as soon as possible.

“I think Mayor Judge is doing the best he can, but his hands are tied because of this contract,” Agustynovich said.