When the ambulance leaves the firehouse at West 98th Street and Madison Avenue, there’s a good chance Gregory Hyde will be on it.
Hyde is a Cleveland paramedic, and a hard working one at that, with a paycheck to prove it.
Carl Monday and his team reviewed overtime records for all 7,500 city of Cleveland employees. No one earned more overtime last year than paramedic Hyde. Along with his $53,000 salary, Hyde pocketed nearly $90,000 in overtime.
His total salary of over $142,000 tops Mayor Frank Jackson’s $140,000 salary.
With the mayor warning that the city could run out of cash without a tax increase, Monday began looking into the role overtime is playing in the city’s diminished finances.
Hyde’s $89,000 in overtime last year is 30 times what the typical paramedic earned in overtime.
How is that possible and who approved the overtime? Monday posed those questions to EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton.
“Ultimately, all overtime is approved by me,” said Carlton.
She says Hyde is an accomplished paramedic, who earns every dollar he makes. Monday asked Carlton if some favoritism factors into the large amount of overtime Hyde is getting.
“No, like I said, he’s our senior medic, and if he puts his name on the list for daily overtime, he will get the overtime. There’s no favoritism with Mr. Hyde,” Carlton said.
Carlton claims that all overtime is closely monitored, and Hyde has been denied on occasion. But it hasn’t happened often.
Hyde worked 347 days last year. In one stretch, he worked 46 days straight, including 18- and 24-hour shifts.
Hyde, who also trains other paramedics, gets high marks for his job performance and his willingness to work overtime. But are those long hours putting him and others at risk?
City Council President Kevin Kelley is asking the same question.
"What concerns me whether an EMT, how many hours they work, are they still sharp? Are they still on top of their game after that amount of overtime? That would be an issue I would like to look into,” said Kelley.
While Hyde pulls in the highest overtime in the city, EMS exceeded its overtime budget for the year, spending around $2.1 million. The Cleveland Fire Department was actually slightly under its budgeted overtime, spending about $5.5 million.
Predictably, the Cleveland Police Department’s overtime is the city’s biggest budget buster with about $13 million in overtime. In fact, 37 of the top 50 overtime earners last year were police. In large part, because of high-profile events, like Michael Brelo protests.
You can usually find Patrolman Andy Gasiewski near the top of the overtime list. Last year, he supplemented his $58,000 salary, with more than $74,000 in overtime.
Monday attempted to speak with Patrolman Gasiewski.
“You can ask the union. I’m sorry. I can’t make a comment. Sorry,” replied Gasiewski.
Cleveland 19 News spoke with Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, who blames the ballooning police overtime on the city for failing to hire more police.
The city paid just under $1 million in overtime to street construction and maintenance crews, but a good chunk of that went to just five people: Heavy-construction equipment operators, like Gary Kisel, who piled on $47,000 in overtime, on top of their $103,000 salaries.
In most departments, overtime is at the mercy of work rules and union contracts. But sometimes, it’s a case of workers working the city over.
Monday asked Kelley if he was concerned about the possibility.
"That’s something we’re all concerned about. That’s why we rely on the supervisors, the administrators to police that,” said Kelley.
Something Monday found lacking in the city’s division of waste collection: 30 employees were disciplined, including the commissioner who was demoted after Monday uncovered a culture of overtime abuse. No wonder waste collection overtime exceeded its overtime budget by 274 percent.
"The waste collection, you raised it. When something is that far off, clearly there is a problem,” Kelley said.
With budget hearings underway, Kelley said he and the rest of council will be taking a good, hard look at overtime in every city department.
Download the Cleveland 19 News app.
Copyright 2016 WOIO. All rights reserved.