Although the total overtime costs Sarasota County incurs has remained steady from last fiscal year to this fiscal year, individual departments are getting tough with overtime.
County employees worked more than 96,000 hours of overtime last fiscal year, earning $2.6 million in overtime costs.
In the first 10-and-a-half months of this fiscal year, employees have worked nearly 82,000 hours of overtime, for $2.2 million.
“The overtime for (this year) is about 2.3% of our total payroll,” said Deputy County Administrator Dave Bullock. “A decent range is 2% to 5%.”
The mobility department, which includes the SCAT bus system, had the highest amount of overtime costs last year at $957,849. It also has the highest so far this year at $851,515.
SCAT bus drivers are the reason mobility’s overtime is so high.
“We’ve struggled to hire enough bus drivers,” said Bullock. “It’s the nature of that particular job. We’re trying to hit the right staffing level.”
In fact, the top overtime earner so far this year is a SCAT bus driver.
During the first 10-and-a-half months of this fiscal year, SCAT bus driver Robert Larosa has worked 830 hours of overtime, earning $17,081. His base salary is $29,494.
Joanie Whitley, human resources general manager, said Larosa takes any extra bus routes he can get.
“He always asks for extra hours,” she said.
Last year’s top overtime earner nearly doubled his regular salary with the overtime he worked.
Vincent Palau is a traffic-signal technician. In fiscal year 2008, he worked 1,384 hours of overtime to earn $36,520. His base salary is $37,856.
According to Palau’s new manager, Dave Cash, Palau would work many nights, checking on traffic signals to see if they were working properly, and then he would come back in the morning and work all day.
Cash said Palau’s former manager, who has since been laid off, either didn’t pay attention to the overtime Palau earned or didn’t mind.
Now, Cash, who heads the operations and maintenance department, said he is applying a new time-management philosophy.
“We’ll shut down all overtime unless it’s an emergency,” he said. “If possible, we tell people to leave early on Friday if they already have 40 hours.”
The new philosophy has garnered some results.
So far this year, operations-and-maintenance overtime is down by about 50% from last year, which has cut more than $250,000 in overtime costs.
The department with the second-highest amount of overtime is public safety, which includes the fire department and EMS. Its overtime costs are already $150,000 higher than last year, but Bullock said in a department with personnel costs that run in the tens of millions, an increase of $150,000 is not a big fluctuation.
“One incident may swing that (dollar amount) one way or another,” he said.
To see a chart listing county overtime expenses, please click on the link below: