Columbus Saw Record OT Payments In 2008

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City workers were paid $28.4 million in overtime, up 8 percent from 2007 and more than 30 percent from three years earlier, 10 Investigates' Paul Aker reported.

The higher overtime figures come as the city is taking drastic steps to slash the budget.

Firefighters and police made much of the overtime, but hundreds of other city employees made more than $20,000 in overtime alone, Aker reported.

ONLINE EXTRA: City Employee Overtime Totals

Among the big winners was a dispatcher who has a base salary of $49,000 who made $78,000 in overtime.  A man who works at the sewage treatment plant saw his $49,000 salary reach triple digits, with an extra $90,000 in overtime.

The overtime costs discovered by 10 Investigates came as a surprise to Pat Hilles, who works at the Janis Senior Center, a recreation center slated to shut down as the city trims $13 million from next year's budget. 

"There aren't words that describe how bad it makes you feel," Hilles said.  "People make three times their salary because they're working overtime.  And they can't even afford to run a rec center that we don't have overtime."

A top city finance officer said that the city often has to pay the overtime because of personnel shortage or special circumstances.  There was extra pay in 2008 because of the leap year and September's wind storm required overtime for the cleanup. 

Paul Rakosky of the city's finance department said that for the first time in recent history, overtime will go down in 2009.

"Universally, the budget for overtime (is) significantly less in '09 than they were in '08," Rakosky said.

In previous years, the city told 10TV News that it had already cut the overtime budget down as far it could go.  Because of severe economic times, city officials said they will take measures they would not consider in other years, Aker reported.

Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for additional information.