In The News › City spends $25 million in overtime costs

Jul 20, 2010

Source: Fox 8 News

Filed under: Government Finance, Orleans Parish

City spends $25 million in overtime costs

Reported by Lee Zurik
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Fox 8 News

As the head of the Bureau of Governmental Research looks over a document we sent her, she says something is out of whack.

“I would say no one is managing what is going on in the city,” Howard said.

That’s in response to viewing a document that shows the City of New Orleans paid employees $25 million in overtime in 2009.

“It’s a lot of money,” New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow said.

But even more startling is when you compare the overtime spent by the city to the overtime the Nagin administration budgeted for last year.

“One of the things we have to be cognizant of is how much we are budgeting every year for overtime,” Fielkow said.

Last year, the city may not have been cognizant of its budget. While the Nagin Administration spent $25 million in overtime in 2009, they only budgeted $5 million. They went over budget $20 million or 400 percent.

“It’s a waste of money when we don’t have money to waste,” Howard said.

Maybe even more shocking, while seven city departments had money budgeted for overtime last year, 11 did not. In the budget submitted by the Nagin administration and approved by the city council, 11 city departments had no money budgeted for overtime.

One that budgeted no overtime was the New Orleans Fire Department. But they spent nearly $6 million in overtime in 2009. The fire department actually had the city’s highest overtime earner.

Fireman Castadera McGee earned nearly $80,000 in overtime last year. He made about $10,000 more in overtime than his base salary, which was about $70,000.

And with his overtime, McGee made so much money last year, he was the 12th highest paid person in city government. At nearly $150,000 of take home pay, he out earned the city’s Health Director, Public Works Director, head of the airport, and even the mayor.

“The overtime earnings are concerning and they should be a concern to citizens,” Fielkow said.

Last year, the Police Department went $9.5 million over budget in overtime. That included paying more than $100,000 in overtime to Mayor Nagin’s Security Team.

“We are in a pattern in the City of New Orleans of overspending our budget,” Mayor Landrieu’s Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin said.

Before the new mayor took office, Kopplin said the city was on pace to exceed its overtime budget in 2010 by tens of millions of dollars.

“It became a common practice to have folks earning overtime when it wasn’t required or being carefully managed by managers,” Kopplin said.

Many of the top overtime earners work in public safety. Either police, fire, or EMS.

But one employee earned nearly $48,000. According to city records, his responsibility was manual cleaning.

Two employees at the airport made just over $40,000 in overtime. The French Market paid about $33,000 of overtime to two different employees.

And the list goes on and on.

“There are some hard to imagine why you would have overtime at all or very little amounts,” Howard said.

The Landrieu administration says they have reduced overtime spending from a high of $3.5 million in February to a low of about $800,000 in June.

FOX 8 News put in a request for the city’s payroll records on January 4th.

The Nagin Administration never answered our public records request. It took the new mayor about two months to hand over the information.

It’s information that shows some big numbers that are one main contributor to a big budget deficit, more than $60 million, this year.

Jul 20, 2010

Source: Fox 8 News

Filed under: Government Finance, Orleans Parish

Fair Use Notice

This site occasionally reprints copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues and to highlight the accomplishments of our affiliates. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is available without profit. For more information go to: US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.