Friday, January 30, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

 
Teens earn right to perform with symphony

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

From classical to Queen: Chamber Players are ready

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Photographer has a passion for color

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Solano summit focuses on ways to end poverty

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 23 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
Cadets learn skills for future careers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
‘Souper Bowl’ coming to Solano County

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
SolTrans announces changes to bus routes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

California’s snow survey shows far less snow than last month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City event criticized for Mexican mafia connection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to move more than 2,000 inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Boy Scouts reaches settlement in sex abuse case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Protestors shun sister-city relationship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Fort Hood gunman Hasan says he wants to keep top lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Attorney General nominee wins GOP endorsements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Police: Family killed man over child custody dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Anonymized’ credit card data not so anonymous, study shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
 
Simultaneous attacks in Egypt’s Sinai kill 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Gas blast at Mexico children’s hospital, at least 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Deadly San Francisco blaze spurs look at fire alarms

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 30, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My cousin’s 14-year-old son sleeps in the same bed as his grandma

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘The Thorn Birds’ author Colleen McCullough dies at age 77

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hilary Duff, George Lopez help in search for stolen dog

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Justin Bieber apologizes for bad behavior in online video

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Musician Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley altercation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lil Wayne sues mentor’s record label for $51M, seeking split

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jim Parsons to play God in Broadway’s ‘An Act of God’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
 
Bernie Mac widow drops malpractice lawsuit against doctor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

 
Vanden boys pull away from feisty Fairfield 86-66

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7

Serena aims for 19th major in Aussie final vs. Sharapova

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Marshawn Lynch talks about why he doesn’t talk to the media

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Gronkowski and Chancellor make for must-see Super Bowl matchup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Chevrolet polishes its mid-size truck

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Senate passes Keystone XL bill, battles loom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
McDonald’s under siege as new CEO steps in

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Obama seeks spending spike for defense, domestic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Who wants a bite of Hershey…jerky?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Gloria Elizabeth Neal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9