City Overtime $40 Million More than Projected

Categories: Government
And worth every penny.
The city will spend $40 million more on overtime pay than its most recent projection, according to a new controller's report.That's bad. This is worse: Only one city employee -- a Muni secretary -- had her excessive pay labeled "non-exempt."

The rest of the city's lavishly paid overtime hogs were racking up tens of thousands of dollars in extra pay in compliance with city policy, projections be damned.

What's the upshot? Apparently, the city's problem of allowing employees to pad -- and sometimes even double -- their salaries through excessive overtime hours remains out of control.

Per the aforementioned report, projected overtime spending for the current year is plotting out to be $39.7 million more than the city had hoped to pay; we're on pace to spend $141.9 million on OT, but only anticipated shelling out $102.3 million (see page 13 of the report). San Francisco is on pace to spend $11.9 million on overtime pay than it did last year; this year we budgeted to spend less, but will apparently spend more.

This is due, in large part, to an extra $5.4 million in OT from Muni; the Fire Department's additional $6 million; and $1.6 million more from the Department of Public Healt

Perhaps coincidentally, Muni and the Fire Department also happen to be the two city agencies in which employees have a reputation for "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" behavior, in which one employee will create slack others can then fill with time-and-a-half pay.

As of Jan. 7, 74 San Francisco city employees had exceeded a 624-hour overtime cap established by city ordinance. All but three of those employees worked for the Fire Department and Muni.

Overtime basketball.jpg
San Francisco can't get enough overtime...
The employee apparently working the longest hours was station agent Amelita Doon, represented by SEIU public employees Local 790. During the six-month period, she put in more than 1,000 overtime hours, at an hourly rate of $35.51.

A typical full-time San Francisco employee works 2,080 hours per year -- suggesting Doon could have theoretically nearly doubled her work hours.

Doon, however, wasn't singled out in the controller's report as the poster scofflaw in this year's overtime excess. That dubious honor goes to Gida Alvarez, the Muni secretary mentioned earlier, who worked 728 hours of overtime in those six months at $23.58 per hour.That's $17,166 in overtime in half a year. 

Exemptions to the city's overtime cap include overtime hours used in training; cases where there is only a small pool of qualified employees to perform certain tasks; or overtime necessary to avoid forcing overtime hours on other employees. It seems Alvarez was apparently the only city employee who wasn't able to squeeze her OT hours into these categories.

She did the extra work simply because of staffing shortages in her division, the report said.

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Every city has huge Fire & Police overtime issues because every time a worker goes on vacation the sub gets paid overtime. Its not just a SF problem. I work for a City and when we had to make cuts, our Dept cut jobs while police & fire cut OT by 20%. It's a huge problem across the board.


Another sad problem about the SFFD overtime earningsis that those who acquire the most overtime are in the really easy jobsthat have no risk to their life.Mechanics, delivery people, NERT instructors, Inspectors, those in communications etc. all firefighters, but hardly.

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