Overtime Use Way Down in City of Davis

OvertimeLast week we noted the fact that the leadership in City Hall, the Department heads and Management, were by and large receiving as much if not more in salary than they were back in 2007.  We argued that the city could save between 300 and 500 thousand dollars annually through a flat reduction in salary for those making over 87 thousand a year, who were either department heads or from the management group.

We noted personnel cuts, to date, have largely been achieved through the elimination of positions due to retirement or transfer.  However, replacement employees often receive the same salary if not more than their predecessors.

The interim city manager has proposed a budget with two tiers of cuts to services for the public.  However, neither the interim city manager himself nor his staff, nor members who signed the MOU as “Individual Management Employees,” have seen their salaries go down since 2007, prior to the beginning of the latest economic downturn and budget cuts.

In examining this data, we do note there is one other area where the city has achieved great cost savings over the last four years and that is in reduction of overtime pay.

When we ran our initial study of the 100K Club of Davis, we noted that there were 61 members of that 100K Club of Davis.  Of those, 48 were public safety employees and of those, 38 were firefighters.

Of union members, in 2007 there were four police officers in the 100K club and 34 rank and file firefighters.  Fire Captains, as we have noted, are union members who receive overtime for extra service.

Those numbers have fallen drastically, not due to a pay cut, but rather due to a profound drop in overtime usage.

overtime

In the 2007-08 fiscal year, the city paid out $1.5 million in overtime pay, of which $867,000 went to firefighters and half a million to police officers.

By 2010-11, that number had been cut tremendously – by more than half – to $686,000.  Firefighters received $346,000 of that while police received $275,000 of that.

What changed is an interesting question that we will explore in a future article.

But the impact here is tremendous. 

police-fire-100K-2010

Overall, the membership of the 100K club has dropped in Davis from 61 in 2007 to 46 in 2010.  Some of that is undoubtedly due to retirements and the lack of replacing certain positions.  But most of appears to be due to changes in overtime.

In 2007, there were 10 police officers in the 100K club, but six of those were in upper management, meaning only four were due to overtime pay.  That number is down to two, and Sgt. Bates received $35,000 less in 2010 than he did in 2007, all of that due to a reduction in overtime.  Sgt. Bezuglov appears to have had a promotion to Police Sgt. since 2007.

On the fire side, 38 were members of the 100K club in 2007, of those 34 were union members receiving overtime pay.

That number is now down to 18, ten of them fire captains, the rest Firefighter IIs.  It is worth noting that another 19 members of the fire department received over $90,000 per year, including 5 to 7 receiving between $97 and $99,000 per year.

The bottom line, from this analysis’ perspective, is the city has managed to save just under a million dollars per year through a reduction of overtime.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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22 Comments

  1. medwoman

    David

    Will you be providing more detail about how this was achieved? How were these hour covered ? Were they,in effect, “surplus hours”with the departments being overstaffed ? Were other employees used to cover this time ?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Yes I will. Acting Fire Chief Bill Weisgerber just told me that there have been several measured employed to control overtime costs, some of which pre-date his time and others include measures taken in the past year and a half since he has been aboard. I’ll get a more comprehensive answer from him and Police Chief Landy Black and run a follow up tomorrow or Monday.

  3. hpierce

    [quote]Were they,in effect, “surplus hours”with the departments being overstaffed ? Were other employees used to cover this time ? [/quote]I would think, if they were ‘overstaffed’ there would be no overtime. More often, overtime occurs when there are regular positions unfilled due to retirements, emergencies, and/or normal ‘turnover’ when employees move on, but it takes time to find replacements. David, did you look at vacancies in 2007?

  4. E Roberts Musser

    This is a huge step in the right direction… the city cannot afford to be paying out more than a million dollars in overtime… But what I find shocking is that overtime most likely could have been cut long ago, but while no one was looking, the practice of unnecessary overtime was going on willy nilly, rather than banking that extra funding and storing it up for rainy days when the economy took a downturn (as now) – as Rich Rifkin has pointed out to all of us numerous times in the past…

  5. medwoman

    hpierce

    I’m sorry that I was not clear with my use of ” ovdrstaffed”. What I intended to say is, ” was there a realization that the same level of service could be provided by fewer employee hours ?

  6. Rifkin

    One thing to note about the current fire contract–a carryover from previous contracts and likely common in our region–is that every firefighter and every fire captain is guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of overtime pay every 27-day duty cycle.

    [b]From the current fire contract:[/b] [i]”For purpose of this provision, hours worked in excess of 204 in any 27-day duty cycle shall be considered overtime. For purposes of this provision, any hours during which the employee is paid leave time, holiday-in-lieu time, vacation time, sick leave time, jury leave time, military leave time, injury leave time, or any other approved leave time shall count as hours worked by the employee.”[/i]

    In a 27-day duty cycle, every firefighter and every captain is scheduled to be on duty 216 hours (9 days x 24 hours = 216 hours). As such, they get 12 hours of guaranteed overtime. They are also paid to sleep 8 hours on each 24-hour shift.

    The solution to this problem is to stop counting their 8 hours of sleep as hours worked. Instead of crediting them with 24 hours of work while they are at the station, we can legally credit them with 16 hours instead.

    What that does is makes their hours paid over 27 days fall from 216 hours to 144 hours (9 days x 16 hours = 144 hours).

    I’ve written about this a few times in my column. To my mind guaranteed overtime is outrageous*. I would hope that we now have a majority on the council who will reform the contracts to get rid of mandatory o.t. for every firefighter and captain.

    One other thing to note here …. there is a huge imbalance in California now between firefighter jobs and highly qualified wannabe firefighters. Woodland advertised a few open positions and they got more than 300 applications ([url]http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_18238566[/url]). The WFD will only pick from the first 150 qualified people who apply. … Someone commenting on the Sacbee website made a good point. Woodland should drop the wages and benefits down and down and down until they only get 150 qualified applicants. From that pool, they should have no trouble finding people who can do the job.

    *Guaranteed o.t. is not quite as outrageous as “union bank hours.” Under that provision, we pay all of our firefighters full pay to leave Davis and train with their union. They are not training how to fight fires or save lives. They are training how to use union tactics to win better pay and better benefits. And they are getting this training while we are paying them! Now that’s an outrage.

  7. Rifkin

    One thing David should have pointed out in his column–if he did and I missed it I apologize–is that the new police contract has a reform in it which reduces police officer overtime by how each officer is scheduled.

    …. Back to fire for a second …. It should be pointed out that the City of Davis does not pay any of the overtime bill for Davis Firefighters when they are called out of the area to support another agency. That is paid for by the State of California. So when you are comparing one year with another year, there can be wide variance in how much of the overtime is paid by the state. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would guess in 2007 our personnel were called out of town to help fight an inordinate number of wild fires that year. My recollection is that was a bad fire year. I think it was the summer we had a couple of weeks where our air was smokey, due to fires burning in Butte County.

  8. Rifkin

    Rich: [b]”… the new police contract has a reform in it which reduces police officer overtime.”[/b]

    I just looked up the city staff report from August 2, 2010 ([url]http://cityofdavis.org/meetings/councilpackets/20100802/05 DPOA MOU.pdf[/url]), where it explains the staffing change:

    [i]”This MOU will implement a change in staffing for the DPOA sworn employees assigned to the Patrol Division. Currently Patrol Officers work eighty-four hours during a two week payperiod. This MOU would reduce the hours worked from eighty-four to eighty with an approximate ongoing annual savings of $120,000. The savings are achieved through less reliance on overtime and the reduction of additional straight-time hours beyond 80 hours a pay period. Listed below are some of the key benefits to the city of Davis for the change in staffing model.”[/i]

  9. Rifkin

    The previous link to the city staff report is not working. Maybe this link ([url]http://cityofdavis.org/meetings/packet.cfm?agenda=20099B3F-1143-EEBD-B0C425C95969A0B8[/url]) will.

  10. medwoman

    Rifkin

    I agree with most of your points. However, I take exception to one of your statements. Firemen, just like doctors who work 24 hour shifts
    are not ” paid to sleep” , they are paid to be continuously available. From years of personal experience, the experience of having to go from a state of sleep or at least relative relaxation to the need to be at your peak in a matter of moments takes a toll and is worth some compensation. I would consider it fair if they were compensated for 16 hours as you suggested and then paid by the hour for time actually worked rather than spent sleeping.

  11. Rifkin

    [i]”Firemen, just like doctors who work 24 hour shifts
    are not ‘paid to sleep'[/i]

    Doctors should never work 24 hour shifts. But being ‘on-call’ is not working. It’s just being available.

    In the case of firefighters, we could change our scheduling so they are 12-on, 12-off, or 8-on, 16-off. But those are less efficient. If it happens to be the case that we get a fire call when they are asleep, and they cannot get in 8 hours of off time in their 24 hours, then by federal law they would get overtime.

    Ultimately, Medwoman, it’s a question of how can we in Davis afford fire protection from the DFD. If you are following the news in our region, you will note that many area cities have been laying off cops. Sacramento just fired 80 police officers. Those kind of lay-offs are coming to Davis. We will be less safe. If you are burglarized, it won’t be long before the police in Davis will not be able to help you, after we fire a large number of cops. The only way we can afford police protection will be to stabilize the increases in total compensation paid to all employees and to reduce the excessively high cost of our firefighters. You might be sympathetic to those who are paid while they are asleep on duty. That’s fine. But we simply cannot afford to keep paying them for those 8 hours a day. It’s obviously not the case that Davis will no longer be able to attract good candidates for those jobs if they make less money due to this change. We have no other good choice.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “But what I find shocking is that overtime most likely could have been cut long ago, “

    While I am still waiting on the FF Chief response, the response I got from Landy Black on police Overtime shows that it was a very difficult and complicated process for reducing overtime.

    He told me, “While it may seem to be a simple process, it has not been so, and in my estimation tends to result in a somewhat poorer quality of service, or service potential, to our citizens. Furthermore, there is ultimately a limit to just how far OT can be reduced and have the police department do its job without making major errors.”

  13. Avatar

    Rich Rifkin ” The Hearsay Columnist “

    Sacramento just fired 80 police officers. Those kind of lay-offs are coming to Davis. We will be less safe. If you are burglarized, it won’t be long before the police in Davis will not be able to help you, after we fire a large number of cops.

    Your , the sky is falling blather is so old and repetitive , it makes you even more unbelievable …

  14. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]While I am still waiting on the FF Chief response, the response I got from Landy Black on police Overtime shows that it was a very difficult and complicated process for reducing overtime. [/quote]

    If the city was able to cut overtime to the huge extent it has, then it couldn’t have been all that difficult… and is certainly an indication that the overtime wasn’t needed as much as is claimed. Sure it would be nice to have Cadillac services, but at some point economic reality has to reign supreme…

  15. Don Shor

    Hi Avatar,
    Sacramento laid off about 15% of their police force, as part of a total reduction of about 360+ employees across the city departments. The budget gap there is about $34 million over the next two years. Layoffs coming to Davis? Probably. What would you suggest as an alternative to these layoffs?

  16. Rifkin

    Bobby, it’s not hearsay. It’s reality. We will be laying off cops, much like every other city. We have a problem in which collective bargaining seems to create problems, but refuses to solve them. As much as anyone, Bobby, this is your fault. It’s comical that you attack me over a problem you created, Bobby.

  17. David M. Greenwald

    “If the city was able to cut overtime to the huge extent it has, then it couldn’t have been all that difficult… and is certainly an indication that the overtime wasn’t needed as much as is claimed. “

    As someone who was critical of the use of overtime, having gotten explanations from both Chiefs, I very much disagree with you. Their description of how they did it and their estimation of the reduction in quality of service belies the claim that it was easy or unnecessary. It will run on Monday and you can judge yourself.

  18. medwoman

    Rifkin

    I do follow local news although not as closely as you. One recent story stands out for me tbat I believe is pertinent. That is the coverage of the funeral for two firefighters killed in a home fire in San Francisco. At the risk of seeming hypocritical since I am usually arguing for an evidence based discussion rather than anecdote, there is a point here that I have not seen discussed yet in this discussion.
    Unlike other public employees, firefighters and police are asked, in thevregular course of their jobs, to deal with life threatening situations.
    It would seem to me that this factor of their work alone should be given special consideration with regard to compensation.

    And a question. You state that doctors should never work 24 hours. Why do you feel that doctors who frequently deal with life and death situations, should not work 24 hours, but that it is ok, presumably for increased efficiency, for firefighters, who also face life and death decisions, to do so ?
    Or dud I misunderstand your position ?

  19. David M. Greenwald

    med: One of the points that has been raised is how few situations firefighters in Davis really expose themselves to. The number of actual structure fires is very low, the number of entries is even lower.

    You also have the fact that when Woodland got a grant for 8 ffers, they had hundreds of applicants. Given the economics, if we saved money on labor costs, we could spend it on things that are being neglects like road maintenance. FFers like to talk about public safety, but isn’t having roads in good repair part of public safety?

  20. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]As someone who was critical of the use of overtime, having gotten explanations from both Chiefs, I very much disagree with you. Their description of how they did it and their estimation of the reduction in quality of service belies the claim that it was easy or unnecessary. It will run on Monday and you can judge yourself.[/quote]

    I would argue that the City of Davis makes sure to do everything in the most expensive way possible. Instead of being a bit more conservative, and not demanding perfection and the elitest of top drawer services, Davis would have been better off sticking to what was reasonable, then banking any extra funding for “rainy days” when the economy takes a downturn.

    It is very typical of Davis to continue to expand services when times are good, while making the public believe the expanded services are absolutely essential (even tho we got along just fine w/o them previously). Then when times are tough, there is no funding for the expanded services which have now somehow been morphed into “essential” services. As a result, citizens must be taxed more for those expanded services. A perfect example of this phenomenon is the landscaping and lighting district tax. It started out a miniscule amount and then multiplied astronomically.

    To put it more succinctly, we must plan way ahead, for both good times and bad…

  21. medwoman

    ERM

    I completely agree with the wisdom of being fiscally prudent and planning ahead for bad times as well as good.
    The problem I see is that there is not universal agreement about what constitutes “perfection and the elitist of top drawer services” and what are reasonable or even necessary expenditures. A good example of the range of perspectives could be seen in the arguments surrounding
    Measure A with some us believing in the additional support for the schools as “necessary” to support the programs we value, while others saw these programs as unnecessary luxuries for which they should not be taxed. As you once pointed out, this was not a matter of right and wrong but a matter of values. I think this statement can be equally applied to ane number or services.

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