Roseville has paid nearly $3.3 million in overtime for 2011-12 fiscal year

Officials call overtime a ‘cost-saving tool’
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The city of Roseville has spent roughly $3.3 million in overtime pay since July 1.

Four departments account for 95 percent of that amount - fire, police, electric and environmental utilities.

About half of that money has been used by the Roseville Fire Department, which has spent about $1.7 million to pay for employees to work longer hours. The police department accounts for $721,000, or 22 percent, of the total amount.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Carman said his department budgets for overtime and set aside $2.8 million in overtime for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The department's total budget is $23.8 million.

About $1.8 million of the fire department's overtime amount is for constant staffing, which means the city has fire stations staffed around the clock at levels that allow for firefighters to respond to any type of emergency, Carman said.

Last year, the fire department hired a third-party group, CityGate Associates, to audit their business practices.

"They concurred that with our current service level goals this is the most cost-effective way to staff and operate the fire department," Carman said. "So if someone is sick or on vacation and can't fill their shift, we pay another employee overtime to fill in, which is less expensive than hiring a new employee."

The fire department saves money on uniforms, training, protective equipment and benefits for new employees. Some of the fire department's overtime pay is reimbursed by other government agencies.

"Both the state and federal governments reimburse the department when our firefighters and equipment are deployed to help during major fires and other emergencies," Carman said.

Roseville spokeswoman Megan MacPherson said the city uses overtime as a cost-saving tool. Since 2007, the city has reduced its workforce by 186 positions but hasn't had a reduction in demand for services, she said.

"So when staffing needs increase on a temporary, short-term basis, it's less expensive to pay a current employee overtime than to hire a new employee with the accompanying costs of benefits such as health insurance and retirement, in addition to other costs like training and office space," MacPherson said.

Phil Ozenick, of the citizens watchdog group Friends of Roseville, said his group questions the city's use of overtime, especially as it relates to employees feeling pressured to work longer hours.

"We're very concerned with the city forcing employees to work overtime," Ozenick said. "We know of one person ... who has been disciplined because they don't want to do overtime. The city has eliminated a lot of positions and is not filling vacancies, which is good in some respects but not when it involves the health of employees. Their health comes first."

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.



City of Roseville overtime costs from July 1 through Feb. 29, 2012




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EDITOR'S NOTE: In recognition of Sunshine Week, the Press Tribune requested public information from the city of Roseville regarding overtime pay broken down by department. This article shows how public information is used in formulating a story for the newspaper.