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DUNKIRK – Members of the City Council are keeping a close watch on expenses as they questioned overtime and other costs Tuesday at the regular meeting held in City Hall.

Councilwoman Stacey Szukala asked about an expenditure of 64 hours of overtime in the city’s water treatment plant during one week at the end of 2012.

Public Works Superintendent Tony Gugino said the overtime was unavoidable as his department was faced with employees taking time off and another off on a worker’s compensation case. He said there are only five licensed operators at the city’s water treatment plant and it must be staffed by an operator 24 hours a day. He said the end of the year left him with only two staff members who had to work seven days in a row.

Councilwoman Stephanie Kayak said she also was concerned about the safety and welfare of employees working long shifts under those conditions.

Gugino agreed that the situation was not ideal. He told the Council that the way to ease this problem in the future is to hire another licensed operator. He said money is still in the budget to cover the additional hire.

Gugino also said that despite the recent expenditure for overtime, the overall budget for the wastewater treatment plant was not “in the red.”

“We are still way under budget,” he said. At previous meetings, Council members had scrutinized overtime in the streets department for plowing.

Szukala also questioned a recent expenditure of two hours of overtime for an employee who listed the reason as ordering chlorine. “I think ordering could be accomplished inside of 40 hours,” she said.

In other matters, the Council authorized the acceptance of the Main Street Program Grant. Under the program, the state will match dollar-for-dollar expenses of up to $50,000 for authorized businesses to make improvements. The total grant is worth $250,000. Information for businesses that want to try to qualify is available in the city planning office.