The fire chief also said paying overtime is less expensive than hiring more firefighters, adding one newly-hired firefighter costs Allentown nearly $100,000, including salary, benefits and pension.

But he noted whether to hire more personnel or keep paying overtime is a decision to be made by the city administration.

“A good number of firefighters depend on that overtime,” said the chief. “If we would go 100 percent staffing, that would upset a lot of people.”


Money also taken from police budget?

At the June 18 City Council meeting, Eichenwald said Robert Scheirer, the city’s former fire chief, told her about the $500,000 transfer before he retired in January.

At that meeting, Eichenwald also claimed “a large amount of money” had been transferred out of the police department’s budget by the administration. She wanted to know why it was taken from that budget and how it was used.

But she did not want to discuss that claim Wednesday night.

Eichenwald told Dougherty she wanted to know if there had been any other transfers to pay for consultants.

“Are you talking about the police department?” he asked.

“In general, both in fire and police,” she said. “But let’s talk about the fire department.”

“I want to start with police because, unless you can provide something, I don’t know where to begin with that,” said Dougherty.

“You didn’t provide any specificity as to the police department transfers. Me, my staff and even the controller looked and scoured. We saw no abnormalities in any transfers. So I would need something more specific from you in terms of what you’re referring to in the police department.”

After the meeting, Eichenwald said she did not want to talk about any transfer of police funds “right now. I can’t talk about that yet.”