Grogan looks to reduce overtime

PATTERSON, La. — Overtime pay, which came close to $200,000 in the City of Patterson’s last fiscal year, will be given a closer look by Mayor Rodney Grogan, the first-term mayor said Tuesday.

He began looking at overtime paid to city workers in July before entering what he has called the “corrective mode.” The previous fiscal year ended June 30. The corrective mode began this month in response to articles published by The Daily Review.

“I do not believe salaried workers should generally be paid overtime,” Grogan said. However, extenuating circumstances and events arise that could justify overtime pay, but as a rule employees should be paid their salary alone, the mayor said.

Grogan said when he examined August monthly finance reports, he noticed some departments are beginning to “rise early” in their spending. He told department heads and he expects city workers to end their day at the appointed time, he said.

Grogan noted that as the person ultimately responsible for what the city spends, he is instructing department heads that all over time and travel must be approved by the mayor.

Last year, the city paid $2,134,470 in salary in its 10 departments with full-time salaried workers, $268,000 over the final amended budget for salary, according to documents provided to The Daily Review after a public records request. The overtime paid was 9.1 percent more than actual salary paid, and it was 10.4 percent more than budgeted for salary.

Grogan said he continues to work to establish a written policy on overtime and other issues. He anticipates having the written policy for all employees available soon, perhaps as early as the next council meeting.

Five of the 10 departments with full-time salaried workers spent more than their budgeted money for overtime as the city paid $193,979 in overtime pay during fiscal year 2013, city documents indicated. The five departments went over their overtime allocation in the amended year-end budget by $48,900.

Over half of the unbudgeted overtime pay was in the police department where it spent 39 percent more than budgeted for extra pay. The department paid $102,868 in overtime, exceeding its final budgeted amount by $28,863.

The overtime paid to police officers was 12.6 percent more than the $818,073 in salaries paid to the officers.

Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle said the overtime figures were not “shocking” to him in light of all the department does. Officers are called upon to assist other agencies and provide security for the citizens of Patterson and will continue to do that, he said.

“If we need to accomplish this in a more fiscally responsible way, then we will do just that,” LaSalle said. “If the administration wants us to be more attentive to this and tighten our belts, we will do what they want us to do ... We will accomplish the wishes of the mayor and the council.”

Grogan said the city provides police details and security to entities outside of the city limits, some of which are private, without compensation. He expects to continue to cooperate with helping other public bodies, but private entities requesting security outside of the city likely would need to reimburse the city for its expense, the mayor said.

Overtime worked by police officers will need the approval of both the police chief and the mayor, Grogan said.

The mechanic department spent 235 percent over its $3,500 budgeted overtime pay. The department spent $50,903 in salary but paid $11,737 in overtime. The $8,237 it spent over its budget for overtime was partly offset by spending $4,699 less than budget in salary.

The other departments to exceed their budget on overtime were:

—Utility management, which exceeded budget by 170 percent with $12,370 overtime; $7,782 over budget.

—Water plant that exceeded budget by 6 percent with $21,179 overtime; $7,782 over budget.

—Water department, which paid $2,839 in overtime but did not have any funds budgeted for overtime.

The city administration, gas department and streets department were all under budget in overtime payments. Those four departments paid $42,986 in overtime.

The parks department did not pay any overtime and did not have any budgeted. The $69,058 paid in salary exceeded its budgeted salary by $21,783, which was 46 percent more than budgeted.

Comparing other municipalities in the area, Morgan City Mayor Frank Grizzaffi said his city with a larger population and police department spent $1,951,751 in pay to its police officers. Of that amount about $185,000 was paid in overtime which is 10.5 percent more than salary paid.

Patterson’s population is slightly over 6,000, while Morgan City has a population just over 12,000. Berwick’s population is slightly under 5,000.

Grizzaffi said overtime in Morgan City is approaching budgeted amounts with three months left in the fiscal year. Because of that he has stopped overtime with the exception of emergency circumstances and it must be approved by department heads.

Berwick chief administrative officer Newell Slaughter said little overtime is worked paid to city workers, including police in Berwick.

“We don’t work much overtime unless it’s for a storm or flooding or something similar. As a rule, we don’t work it,” Slaughter said. He said overtime runs 3 percent of the salary budget in the police department, while the rest of the town employees’ salary budget contains about 2 percent overtime.

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