Parish overtime skyrockets

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 29, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A key platform of St. John Parish President Bill Hubbard’s campaign for his office was the level of overtime paid out to parish employees. Year-end numbers show he has a lot to be concerned about.

According to parish records, final numbers for 2007 show that 165 St. John employees who worked overtime logged over 41,000 hours more than their regular schedule. This means that almost $900,000 of the parish budget went toward overtime pay.

Buddy Boe, public information officer for St. John Parish, said on average the parish usually budgets around $740,000 for overtime pay. He said the $200,000 difference is something that troubles the parish president, but it is also something that he intends to fix.

“What it boils down to is that there was no adequate monitoring system of what parish employees were doing to warrant the overtime,” said Boe. “The administration did not stay on top of it, and it got out of hand.”

When broken down by month, most employees’ numbers do not seem so imposing, with some workers logging little or no overtime at all. There are a handful of employees, however, that average anywhere from 118 to 180 overtime hours in a single month, with some people earning almost $5,000 extra per month.

Records for last year show that August 2007 was the highest month for overtime pay for the year, with employees getting paid $103,000 extra for working 4,600 hours. A few select workers logged over 100 extra hours for the month.

“It’s an exorbitant amount, and it is pretty troubling,” said Boe.

Boe explained that the influx in overtime comes from a Department of Environmental Quality mandate that says the parish must have a round the clock staff of water plant workers with a class four certification, and the parish does not have enough.

Boe said Hubbard’s administration has devised a series of initiatives aimed at curtailing the abundance of overtime hours being dolled out, including much more rigorous monitoring.

“We have started weekly overtime reports to see where the excess comes from, and determine how things are classified,” said Boe. “We have developed a system to catalogue the amount of hours and the severity of the job. It is put into a spreadsheet so administration can look through it easier to find problems and see where they are coming from.”

Boe said with the additional monitoring, overtime hours will begin to decrease, but it is going to take some time.

“This will not be fixed overnight,” said Boe. “With such a large employee base, it can get out of hand, but until we can track the hours, we won’t know where they are coming from. It is a priority of this administration to make this more manageable. There are so many other ways this parish can spend an extra $200,000. It should not be going to overtime.”

Top 10 Overtime numbers for 2007

Royal Gray – 1,562.5 hours. . . . . . . . . . $36,599.61

Ronald Howard, Sr. – 1,305.5 hours. . . .$34,545.25

Dale J. Waguespack – 1,234.5 hours. . . .$34,712.90

Graylin Burl, Sr. – 1,224 hours. . . . . . . . $26,543.05

Arthur Louis – 1,154 hours. . . . . . . . . . . $30,461.84

Terry A. Victor – 1,093 hours. . . . . . . . . $27,730.66

Verdell Kindrick – 965 hours. . . . . . . . . .$25,370.70

Harold Jackson – 847 hours. . . . . . . . . . . $14,689.81

Dwayne Mason – 843.50 hours. . . . . . . . $16,929.10

Michael Johnson – 800 hours. . . . . . . . . .$18,748.40