State overtime costs up 11%

Posted at: 04/30/2013 10:19 AM
Updated at: 05/01/2013 10:31 AM
By: Beth Wurtmann

Photo: AP

ALBANY - "I think the trend going in the high direction the increase in 11 percent, that should raise serious concern," said state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Serious concern, he said, because taxpayers have to pick up the tab for an 11 percent spike in state overtime -- $52 million more in 2012 than the prior year, totaling a whopping $529 million.

"At a time where everyone's concerned about limited resources and trying to be more economical, increased costs in overtime should be a red flag," DiNapoli warned.

The report showed the biggest expenses are racked up at three main agencies -- the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision that runs the state's prisons, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Mental Health.

Those three accounted for over 67 percent of the total overtime hours across state agencies. They have something in common. All three manage institutional settings that need around the clock staffing.

But DiNapoli said that's no excuse.

"If you're one of the agencies that you have a significant spike, you need to look at the question, first of all, did you need to do this at all? Could you have cut back at those hours? And if you had added staff, in the long run would that have more efficient. Cost you less, than relying on overtime," he questioned.

The comptroller said those agencies should question whether it's more cost effective to hire more staff than to continue to pay time and a half in overtime.

NewsChannel 13 asked the top three agencies with the most overtime why it's so high and what they are doing to reduce OT. DOCCS, OPDWW and OMH all referred us to the State Budget Division. A spokesman sent us this statement:

"Since the governor took office, agency budgets were cut by ten-percent in the first year and spending has remained flat ever since. Each agency is managing their workforce to stay within their budget. As a result, overall payroll spending is down."