KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Common practice, or corrupt? That's the fiery debate tonight in the wake of a Unified Government report on shift trading in the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department.
A new audit of the KCK Fire Department reveals some firefighters being paid for shifts they didn't actually work.
Trading time is a legitimate practice in most fire departments across the country, including KCK. It is allowed under the contract between the Firefighter's Union and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.
This report calls out over two dozen firefighters for abuse of the practice.
According to the KCK firefighter contract, employees can trade up to 24 shifts a year. The idea is that if a firefighter "trades" with a co-worker, the person initiating the trade will still be paid for the day they took off, but will work for the person who worked for them at a future date. So it all evens out.
The Unified Government report claims that only 6 out of 391 firefighters "traded" an equal number of hours, resulting in those firefighters being paid for time they did not work.
The report calls out 5 firefighters who the authors of the report say were paid for time they did not work, and lists the top 25 time traders, or as report authors call them, "sellers."
Mayor Mark Holland was not available for an interview, but sent this statement:
"This report reveals widespread corruption in our fire department and the taxpayers need to be made aware of it. The safety of our firefighters and our public has been compromised. Individuals have done this for their own financial gain. That is the definition of corruption."
Wednesday morning, KCK firefighters blared their sirens and horns during a live broadcast in what appeared to be an attempt to interrupt FOX 4's Matt Stewart as he reported on the allegations.
What is not included in the report are details behind the pay and trades.
According to the contract, firefighters may trade more than 24 shifts for union business or fire-related education.
For instance, Bob Wing is at the top of the list, having traded away all of his shifts and paid over $64,000 for not working.
Wing is the business manager of the local fire union and president of the state fire union, so he is allowed to trade away all of his shifts, but he is responsible for either covering future shifts, or paying the firefighter for the work, and must issue 1099 forms for any compensation.
Wing is out of town on union business, but gave this statement over the phone.
"The fact of the matter is the report is not factual. Trading time in the KCK Fire Department does not cost tax payers one dollar and there is no corruption as indicated by Mayor Mark Holland."
Mayor Holland has called for a special commissioner's meeting Thursday night, where he will present this report.
Sources say several of the commissioners have conflicts and will not be attending the meeting, and there may not be enough who show up to do business. Mayor Holland also plans on proposing a new ordinance relating to compensation of Unified Government employees.