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City worker overtime strains record deficit

May 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
First, a record deficit, and now out-of-control overtime is taxing the L.A. city budget. This after the mayor ordered departments to stop such payouts.City workers are racking up the overtime even as the mayor asks them to take furloughs and cut back.

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"My thought is that the general managers are not listening to the mayor of the city of Los Angeles," said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine. "When you look at this type of expenditure on overtime, it is outrageous."

The Daily News uncovered that a good number of employees are getting $50,000 in overtime. Some are taking home salaries of more than $100,000 a year, some of the highest in the nation.

"Just further evidence that the public employee unions run City Hall," said Kris Vosburgh, executive director of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. "Workers want this, they want the overtime; we're paying more, we're getting less."

At the top of the overtime list: the fire department. More than 4,000 employees made more than $144,000,000 on overtime. The police department has more employees and made less, approximately $118,000,000. Street services, $10 million; Transportation, $9.6 million; at the bottom, the Department of Aging. One employee received $77 of overtime.

The city is looking to raise fees and taxes to pay for the budget shortfall. On "Eyewitness Newsmakers," the mayor stressed that cuts are critical. "That could be cuts in benefits, it could be layoffs, it could be what we call 'mandatory furloughs.'"

But at the Department of Street Services, tree surgeons made as much as $83,000 a year in overtime. Officials say most of that was due to the windstorms and emergencies last year.

Councilman Zine says some departments, such as Libraries, shouldn't have any overtime at all.

"When you look at those departments, when they work Monday through Friday, holidays and weekends off, how do they accumulate any overtime?" asked Zine. "They're not emergency departments, they're not emergency services, so this obviously is going to create a lot of controversy."

"Because they don't have enough money to provide essential services, they're going to raise our taxes. This is a city that just last December gave 25-percent pay raises to 22,000 city employees," said Vosburgh.

Councilman Zine says this overtime issue is something that simply cannot continue, especially with the big budget deficit the city is facing, and it's something the City Council is going to be looking at.

 

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