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I-Team 10 Follow Up: State overtime soars

Posted at: 04/30/2013 5:41 PM
Updated at: 04/30/2013 6:29 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

Now an update to an I-Team 10 investigation about how much of your money the state is spending on overtime costs. On Tuesday, the state comptroller released a report that showed the state spent $52 million more on overtime last year than it did the year before.   

I-Team 10 told you about the sharp overtime increase during our investigation in February. Tuesday's report from the comptroller puts those numbers in perspective and gives you an idea of which agencies are spending the most.

That's how much extra time state workers put in last year. For you the taxpayer, that translates to $521 million dollars, up to $52 million dollars from the year before. These are just a few of the numbers in the 12- page report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. I-Team 10 connected with DiNapoli via Skype and asked him what state managers should take away from his report.

Thomas DiNapoli said, "The report suggests that agencies should look at their overtime numbers, those that are seeing a spike in overtime, look at how they're managing those costs. Look at their staffing levels. Try to be more efficient so we can see reductions in overtime costs not an increase."

When it comes to racking up state overtime, there are few better than Eugene Jones. He works at the Rochester Psychiatric Center as a mental health therapy aide. In February, I-Team 10 reported he pulled in more than $88,000 last year in overtime, more than double his base salary. The psychiatric center is part of the state's Office of Mental Health, one of three agencies that accounted for two-thirds of all overtime hours statewide.The other two are the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Corrections. DiNapoli says even these 24-hour-a-day care agencies should better manage their staffing levels.

DiNapoli said, "Even there there are opportunities for being more efficient and economizing."

But the state's civil service employees union says the increase in overtime is a result of deep staffing cuts and used the report to blast the governor. In a statement, CSEA President Danny Donohue said quote, "The Cuomo Administration continues to purposely understaff state agencies and mandate overtime to a perverse degree." When News10NBC questioned the governor about the spike in overtime a couple of months ago, he pointed out that overall payroll costs are down.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, "What taxpayers really want to know is, when you say overtime is up, taxpayers will say, 'Oh, I'm paying a lot more for overtime.' You're paying more for overtime, but you're paying less overall.”

A spokesman for the governor reiterated that point Tuesday. He says since the governor took office, agency budgets were cut 10% in the first year and spending has remained flat ever since. He says each agency is managing their workforce to stay within their budget.

The report breaks down a lot of the numbers by agency. To read the report, click here.

The report doesn't make any recommendations about how state agencies can reduce their overtime. However, DiNapoli says the report is meant to be a management tool so that those agencies can get a better grip on where they can make changes. He says agency managers should use these numbers to find ways to better balance work schedules.