The Minneapolis firefighters union is questioning the credibility of an external evaluation of the city's fire department.
Emergency Services Consulting International, which conducted an independent review of the department, on Monday acknowledged an error in the report pertaining to the firefighters' use of sick time.
Minneapolis fire department employees average four sick days a year. But ESCI erroneously reported a number three times that size.
Firefighter Joseph Mattison says that proves the evaluation was a waste of taxpayer money.
"If you look where they had to go back and readjust the sick leave numbers," Mattison said, "what kind of report is that? $150,000 for that, where they can't even get the numbers correct? The report's not credible."
ECSI says it got the faulty information from the fire department.
The fire department had the lowest job satisfaction rate in Minneapolis city government, according to a survey of city employees last year. The department's staff has been cut by 18 percent since 2001 because of budget pressures.
The union and the consulting firm agree that low morale may lead more firefighters to call in sick.
Kent Greene, senior vice president of Emergency Services Consulting International, told the City Council on Monday that the Minneapolis department's sick time use is "on the high end" compared with other fire departments.
"It may require a cultural change in the feeling of support of the fire department from the policymakers," Greene said. "If there's a morale issue, in our experience, sick time tends to go up. If morale improves, sick time goes down."