Overtime pay part of grim deficit forecast

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Budget projections from the City Controller’s Office indicate The City will be $60 million in the red on overtime spending by the end of the current fiscal year as San Francisco stares square in the face of a nearly $230 million budget deficit that is expected to worsen when the state budget comes out.

As a result of the dire financial forecast, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive in December for all city departments to evaluate overtime usage.

“The assignment of overtime should be limited to extraordinary circumstances which cannot be anticipated, or where staffing requirements cannot be met through normal scheduling and assignment of available personnel,” Newsom’s directive read.

Newsom ordered departments to better manage staffing levels, ensure overtime is only assigned by management, use flexible work schedules, consider using compensatory time off instead of overtime pay, and monitor employee sick leave and any potential abuses of it.

The directive came in conjunction with Newsom’s announcement on Dec. 17 that he was canceling the hiring of 1,679 unfilled city positions; that number was reduced to about 640 open positions, according to a list later provided to The Examiner by the Department of Human Resources. The moves are an effort to trim spending heading into 2008.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Fire Department, Police Department, Public Health, Public Utilities Commission and Sheriff’s Department are responsible for $52 million of the $60 million excess, but only two of those departments — Public Health and the Sheriff’s Department — will need to go to the Board of Supervisors for supplements to their budgets, according to the Controller’s Office.

Projected deficits for the other four departments can be absorbed by money slated for unfilled positions, according to the Controller’s Office.

The Public Health Department’s projected $8 million overtime deficit is mostly a result of a nursing shortage, and the use of overtime is necessary until more nurses can be hired, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Department has a projected $7.8 million overtime deficit due in part to an increasing jail population and two new additional jail pods opened up to accommodate suspects formerly sleeping on the floor, Sheriff Mike Hennessy told The Examiner.

Hennessy said sheriff’s deputies also perform the police function of transporting suspects from district stations to jail, a task that is performed entirely on overtime.

dsmith@examiner.com

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