Wednesday, September 3, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Public-sector overtime costs provoke questions

By
From page A11 | July 06, 2014 |

The recent attention given to skyrocketing public sector overtime costs deserves taxpayer scrutiny. As citizens poured over salary information available via an online database, jaws dropped as scores of public employees easily racked up over $50,000 in overtime, with many actually doubling their take home pay. The database provided hundreds of examples of seemingly over-compensated employees. This data is alarming, but taxpayer wrath should not be directed solely at the recipients of these huge checks.

Overtime is a valuable tool to address periodic peaks in demand. It is cheaper than hiring another employee for short-term periods, since a hiring manager does not have to pay out a second set of benefits, and also saves corresponding recruiting and training costs. However, if “periodic” becomes “standard operating procedure,” then the valuable tool becomes cost-ineffective.

In addition to labor cost overruns, astute managers are worried about fatigue with their team members. The quality of work can decrease, safety is jeopardized and employee morale can sink rapidly.  Now imagine someone whose responsibility involves saving lives or facing dangerous situations: Fatigue-induced lapses in judgment or delays in reaction can literally mean life or death.

One shocking local example found in the database involves a Vallejo police corporal who racked up 2,400 hours of overtime in 2013. Considering that a typical salaried employee works 2,000 hours a year, this hardworking fellow consistently worked 80-hour weeks.

On first glance, this seems as if the supervisors were not paying attention. Having a public safety officer consistently work double shift does not benefit the community, nor the officer, in the long term. In work environments I have participated in, working an employee at a consistent 100 percent overtime would surely earn the manager a visit from human resources. Additionally, in some sectors, excessive overtime can be against the law. If a professional truck driver worked 57 hours in a 72-hour period like our hard-working corporal, they would face civil fines and penalties.

Even with all the shocking employee payout data seen in the database, many questions remain unasked. Do the increases in overtime funds reflect more overtime hours worked or do they reflect a higher overtime rate? Since overtime pay is based on regular pay, perhaps the base pay is abnormally high and is merely compounded when paying overtime?

What would the payroll be if the department was staffed at full levels? If a department that should have 10 people has a million-dollar payroll, that equals $100,000 per employee. If the same department gets slashed to five people, but still has a million-dollar payroll, each person is making $200,000 a year, which may shock some observers, yet the overall budget remains the same.

Should management-level employees be exempt vs.non-exempt employees? In the private sector, as one progresses along the management ladder, charging for every little bit of overtime becomes a thing of the past. Is that the way things work in the public sector?

Another unasked question: What exactly are they doing during the overtime?  Is it vital specialized labor, or is it administrative paperwork? Could any of their workload be transferred to a less-specialized public employee, or subcontracted out, or even dropped altogether?

Excessive overtime is a red flag in any organization, be it private or public sector. It indicates fundamental issues within the organization, whether it be a poor organizational structure, poor workload distribution, inadequate hiring and recruitment strategies, or some combination of the three. Simply throwing scarce payroll dollars at the problem will harm our communities in the long run.

 Brian Thiemer is chairman of the Solano County Libertarian Party. He can be reached at lpsolanocounty@gmail.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • MikeJuly 06, 2014 - 8:37 am

    I agree, managers are not managing their workforce. Everyone needs time to recharge, especially a high stress position as police. The Human Resources department needs to reign in on outrageous amounts of overtime, it's not healthy or efficient.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Travis Heritage Center puts aircraft histories on video

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Teen to be prosecuted as adult for Tabor shooting

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1

 
Body of Eureka soldier returns home through Travis

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Grape spill backs up commuter traffic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Police chase Labor Day shots-fired reports

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

Rush Ranch puts out call for docents

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
College gets large biotechnology grant

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Festival of Hope returns to Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

End city role at Parkway Gardens, Mraz says

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
He’s back: ‘Forest Gump’ returns to theaters

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B14

 
.

US / World

Bullet-train foes seek state Supreme Court review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Governor seeks federal aid for Napa earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Recovery knocks 21 fish species from watch list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
California wildfire creeps within 2 miles of homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

LA man gets prison in abandoned van dog death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Boy, 11, fights off would-be kidnapper in Azusa

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Double mastectomy doesn’t boost survival for most

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Attorney: Detroit needs debt plan to survive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

30 teens escape from Nashville detention center

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Police: Death of teen whose body burned was random

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Infamous speed trap town investigated over tickets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
PG&E penalized $1.4B for deadly pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Memo: No wrongdoing in handling child immigrants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Mom of autistic girl pleads guilty to child abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Syrian rebels issue demands for captive UN troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Pakistan lawmakers back premier amid mass protests

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Seismic activity calms down near Iceland volcano

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Top South America hackers rattle Peru’s Cabinet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ukrainian troops routed as Russia talks tough

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Group says world is losing battle against Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Video purports to show beheading of US journalist

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
US strike targets leader of Somali extremist group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Police enforcement counts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 3, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
10 ways to make life better

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

.

Entertainment

Bieber charged with assault over photo incident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Family: Joan Rivers on life support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Celebrities’ nude shots removed from some websites

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Sports

Paxton takes shutout into 8th, Mariners stop A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Baalke, Harbaugh won’t tolerate domestic violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Carr knows being named starter just the beginning

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Picking the best of the worst for Ryder Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Posey, Giants rally for 12-7 win over Rockies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Questions for FSU and Alabama after opening week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Following his own rules, Monfils into US Open QFs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks stay atop AP Pro32 power rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Broncos WR Welker suspended for 4 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s O-line trying to live up to reputation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL suspends Irsay 6 games, fines him $500,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Unbeaten US routs New Zealand 98-71 at worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tom Watson fills out his Ryder Cup team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prep volleyball: Vikings, Mustangs win foundation games

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Boone insists he will be ready for Sunday opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

It’s no longer safe to recline your airplane seat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Some fear auto industry returning to bad habits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Home Depot probes possible credit card data breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Revel casino follows Showboat, closes its doors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

George H. Gollinger

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Laurie Danielson Bailey

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

.

Comics

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7