CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland city employees raked in about $5.2 million in overtime in just over one month in 2019.
At this pace, some employees could double their salary by the end of the year.
The Cleveland19 Investigative Unit reviewed city employee overtime from January 1 to February 5 of this year.
The highest overtime earner was Cleveland Police Sgt. Mark Bickerstaff, who pulled in more than $12,000 in OT during that time period.
The top 10 city overtime earners cost the city more than $105,000 total in just over a month.
The top 50 city overtime earners made about $6,500 each or more.
37 out of the top 50 are police positions.
Other positions include four electric line workers, three construction equipment operators, two fire lieutenants, one EMS paramedic and three other various positions.
According to city policy, supervisors must offer and approve overtime in advance.
The city of Cleveland has more than 8,100 employees. Only about half of those employees made overtime pay from January 1 to February 5.
Breaking down the overtime numbers, January 1 to February 5:
-369 employees made $3,000 or more
-179 employees made $4,000 or more
-109 employees made $5,000 or more
-64 employees made $6,000 or more
-38 employees made $7,000 or more
-20 employees made $8,000 or more
-13 employees made $9,000 or more
-7 employees made $10,000 or more
-3 employees made $11,000 or more
Cleveland19 found some of the top police OT earners are homicide detectives, bringing in more than $9,000 in just over a month.
We reached out to the police union, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, for a comment. They did not return our phone calls.
In the past, the police union has blamed high overtime on the city administration for not hiring enough police officers.
There's nothing to suggest employees violated policy.
But we're asking city officials, did they budget correctly and are they properly staffed?
The city’s response
Mayor Frank Jackson's office tells us the city will not exceed the amount approved for personnel and related benefits.
Here is the response we received March 14:
“The City has 26 pay periods in each year. The City is currently at the end of pay period five. As of pay period five overtime expenses are $8.45 million. The 2019 budgeted overtime is $37.9 million. What this means is that the City is at 22% of its budgeted overtime spent. The amount of overtime normally spent during these five pay periods is 19%.”
The city says there are two reasons for the slightly higher than usual overtime at the beginning of the year. The city is three percent over overtime right now.
They say there are four holidays that occur between December and February and show up on paychecks in the beginning of the year.
And winter weather was a factor.
City crews are working overtime to repair downed wires, clear snow and repair broken water mains.
The Mayor’s Office sent us this information:
Breakdown of the 2019 overtime spent through pay period 5:
Actual Uniformed Overtime $4,176,536
Actual Non-uniformed Overtime $4,276,369
Total Actual Citywide Overtime $8,452,905
2019 overtime budget for both uniformed and non-uniformed employees:
Budgeted Uniformed Overtime $21,902,500
Budgeted Regular Overtime $15,993,384
Total Budgeted Citywide Overtime $37,895,884
Oversight of employee overtime
Cleveland19 asked how oversight of employee overtime is handled.
The city says besides the finance department, they have another check in place with the Office of Internal Audit.
“This is a very closely monitored function as is every aspect of the budget,” a city spokesperson said.
We reached out to city council for an interview about oversight on employee overtime a week ago, but we were not able to get an interview.
Overtime can vary from month to month.
It's too early to predict what the rest of the year will look like, but we'll keep watching.
Cleveland19 requested the total overtime city employees made in 2018 more than a month ago, we have not gotten that public record back yet.