San Francisco officials want to rein in city workers' overtime 

With San Francisco expected to bust its overtime budget by nearly $40 million, stronger controls are being proposed to rein in costs.

While overtime spending had been on a two-year downward decline, this year the spending will increase by $12 million compared to last fiscal year.

That isn’t sitting well with some supervisors, who are proposing additional overtime restrictions.

“We’ve got to get a handle on this citywide. I don’t think it’s acceptable to us that we can’t seem to get our hands around how to keep these costs contained,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said during a Thursday Government Audit and Oversight Committee hearing.

As part of a broad effort two years ago to control skyrocketing overtime, The City imposed a per worker annual overtime cap of 624 hours, with the ability for some waivers.

“That’s a lot of hours,” Chiu said of the existing cap. The cap was set at 30 percent of the 2,080 hours worked annually by a full-time employee. The current cap permits a city employee to work an 80-hour week for a third of the year, said Chiu, who suggested lowering it to 416 hours, or 20 percent of hours worked.

“In certain areas we would still have to give exemptions. It may help,” said Micki Callahan, The City’s director of human resources.

Supervisor David Campos said departments need to stick to their overtime budgets. He suggested city departments should have to obtain approval from the board before exceeding their overtime budgets.

“The idea is you budget a realistic amount,” Campos said.

While large agencies such as the Police and Sheriff’s departments decreased overtime spending this year, the Fire Department is expected to spend $6 million more than it did last year. Fire Department officials said it’s less expensive to use overtime than to hire new workers, but supervisors are requesting more analysis.

Chief Joanne-Hayes White explained that the department’s overspending increase from $7.2 million in 2005 to this year’s $26.6 million was due to a decrease in employees, from 1,772 to 1,403 members.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

How it adds up

The City’s total overtime spending in past fiscal years:

$141.9 million 2010-11
$130 million 2009-10
$142.1 million 2008-09
$167.7 million 2007-08
$151.5 million 2006-07
$124.2 million 2005-06

Source: Controller’s Office

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