The city has over expended its overtime budget by 17-percent with one more month to go in the current fiscal year, according to a report that was handed to council members on Tuesday evening.
City departments were allotted a $4.37 million for overtime in fiscal year 2015, but they have so far spent $5.12 million. Much of the excessive overtime spending occurred in public works and police.
The city’s public works department went over its budget by 42-percent. Public works had an overtime budget of $1 million, but its expenditure year-to-date stands at $1.53 million.
“Why is public works at 142-percent?” asked Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman. “What is costing us?” He worried before the fiscal year concludes public works will incur 50-percent more in overtime than it was budgeted.
Staff shortage at public works resulted in the increased overtime spending, said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
Similarly, city police was budgeted $2.14 million for overtime, but it spent $2.60 million marking a 21-percent over expenditure.
The biggest overtime hog was the city’s animal control. It was provided a $22,498 overtime budget, but it spent $56,292, according to city records, marking a 150-percent expenditure over the budget.
Morris asked why animal control was incurring more than twice what it was budgeted in overtime. Business administrator Nellie Pou said the city’s animal control also serves five other municipalities, with which Paterson has contracts.
She said there’s a clause in the contracts that allow the city to bill the contracting towns for overtime incurred while responding to an event in their municipalities during non-regular hours. She said the city intends to bill those towns for the incurred overtime.
“We will be reimbursed for those particular overtime hours,” said Pou.
The city’s fire department remained within its budget of $710,840, according to the report. Fire spent $652,901 so far. It has expended 92-percent of its budget and has eight-percent remaining.
Morris said the city could see a savings in overtime spending if it manages to maintain the current levels. “If DPW [public works] manages to hold the line we may actually realize some significant savings in overtime spending,” said Morris.
The city’s fiscal year ends in three weeks.
“I believe the overtime expenditure is exorbitant,” remarked Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman.