Taxpayers footing higher OT bill at OCFS

Posted at: 10/31/2012 5:20 PM
Updated at: 10/31/2012 7:44 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - Juvenile offenders who committed violent felonies under age 16 are watched over at the Brookwood Secure Center in Claverack.

It's just one of jobs that the state Office of Children and Family Services performs, along with handling child abuse complaints, adoption and foster care help.

But as NewsChannel 13 found two years ago, the employees who do that work racked up 12-million-dollars in overtime, paid for by taxpayers. Numbers back then, that Commissioner Gladys Carrion found unacceptable.

"I find them staggering! I mean I think it's staggering and I certainly don't want to be the agency that has such a high rate of overtime," she said in 2010. 

At the time, Carrion said her hands were tied, because employees with the most seniority get first dibs on overtime. And because shifts at round the clock secure facilities or with the child abuse hotline are so essential, they have to be covered.

But two years later, how's the agency doing now?

Records we obtained show overtime has soared even higher. Growing two million dollars over the past two years to a total of 14 point two million.

Some of the employees are pulling down big money. The top overtime earner is a youth division aide, who earned more than $88,000 in O/T in the last fiscal year, on top of his salary of $55,000. A child protective specialist made $84,000 in overtime, in addition to a salary of $65,000.

"They're not on the job overtime because they're trying to increase their pay. They're on the job when they have to be," said Susan Kent, President of the Public Employees Federation.

Kent said her members are faced with such a staffing shortage, they have to cover the shifts on overtime. Kent blames Governor Cuomo, who she says is directing agencies cut essential costs.

"Our message to the Governor is, you need to look at the human element. We provide excellent public service to the people that need it. And he needs to stop cutting the numbers and worry about getting the services to the people that do them. Which is making sure you have enough workers to provide those services," Kent said.

A Budget spokesman is responding to the PEF President's claims, saying that the State is hiring where it does make sense.

“The State is managing its workforce very carefully. Overtime is just one part of the equation. Overall personnel expenses including overtime were down three-percent in the 2011-12 fiscal year, compared to the prior year," said Morris Peters, DOB spokesman.

The top ten overtime earners at OCFS for fiscal year 2011-2012:

1. Joseph Pertilla, Youth Division Aide, $55,164 salary; $88,527 overtime

2. Drexton Carter, Youth Division Aide, $54,892 salary; $85,287 overtime

3. Saverio Bizzarro, Child Protective Services Specialist, $65,192 salary; $84,054 overtime

4. Godwin Maduemezia, Youth Division Aide, $54,956 salary; $77,602 overtime

5. Janet Ludwig, Child Protective Services Specialist, $65,192 salary; $76,541 overtime

6. Debra Lynn Cheeseman, Child Protective Services Specialist, $65,192 salary; $76,238 overtime

7. Zewdie Tibebu, Child Protective Services Specialist, $52,552 salary; $65,863 overtime

8. Stephonne Reeves, Youth Division Aide, $53,783 salary; $64,677 overtime

9. Nancy Hiller, Child Protective Services Specialist, $65,192 salary; $63,269 overtime

10. Joyce Henry, Child Protective Services Specialist, $52,552 salary; $61,751 overtime


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