Bloomberg Blames Courts for Ballooning FDNY Overtime Budget

NY Daily News - December 18, 2010

by Kathleen Lucadamo

Mayor Bloomberg blamed the courts Friday for the ballooning FDNY overtime budget, warning the agency will keep burning through cash if it can't hire the most qualified probies.

"The judge says, 'Don't hire unless you hire using racial quotas' and I've said, 'I'm not going to do that,'" Bloomberg said on WOR radio.

The agency is down 350 firefighters and is relying on OT to fill in the gap, he said. The Daily News revealed this week the FDNY's overtime bill is expected to hit $160 million by June - a tab rivaled only by the one the agency hit the year terrorists hit the World Trade Center.

"Since we can't hire, we have to fill them with overtime. And if we run out of money we are going to have fewer firehouses," Bloomberg said. "We'll cover with overtime until we just don't have the money anymore."

A Brooklyn federal judge has determined there is racial bias in the entrance exam for the FDNY, which is nearly 87% white. He has imposed a hiring freeze until the city finds a solution.

The judge has ruled the entrance exam is biased against blacks and Hispanics. The city is revamping its test.