Louisville Firefighters Want More Than $17M

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --

It may cost Metro Government millions more than expected to settle a long-running overtime pay dispute with Louisville firefighters.

Attorneys for the firefighters told a Jefferson circuit court judge they also want what's called "liquidated damages."

Metro government figures it owes $17 million, but attorneys for the firefighters want twice that much.

It's an eight-year dispute over how the city of Louisville figured overtime pay for firefighters. The case already has been to the state's highest court.

Metro officials calculate the city owes nearly 800 of them $17.6 million.

"It will have to come out of the reserve fund," Abramson said Wednesday.

But, in court Thursday, firefighters' attorney Ann Oldfather argued that's not all the city owes.

"We believe we are entitled to the entry of an order that has liquidated damages," she said. "The city of Louisville owes each of these firefighters an additional amount equivalent to the back pay to which they are entitled"

"Seventeen million dollars in these economic times for the city is enormous," said attorney Larry Zielke. "Can you imagine now if the city has to double that for a penalty?"

Zielke said the city acted in good faith and at the time paid the firefighters according to labor department guidelines.

Firefighters were hoping to get a quick trial date, but in light of their attorneys seeking liquidated damages, the city's lawyer asked for more time.

"It seems like it's delay, delay, delay," said Firefighters Union President Craig Willman. "The mayor said a week or two ago he wants to get us the money as soon as possible. It appears they want to drag this out much longer."

Metro government could be looking at $35 million -- more than half of what's in the reserve fund.

Mayor's representative Kerri Richardson said it would take the city a long time to crawl out of that hole.

That $35 million figure does not include eight years of attorney fees.

Copyright 2008 by WLKY.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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