L.A. spent over $2 billion in overtime costs, Controller reports

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Los Angeles has spent more than $2 billion on overtime costs, City Controller Ron Galperin announced Wednesday, also saying that nearly $500 million of that was this year alone.

The latest report to come from Galperin’s office, “On the Clock: Review of City Employee Overtime,” breaks down overtime costs and identifies top earners by department and job classification.

“Overtime is a critical tool to help the City serve Angelenos and protect communities from crime, emergencies and natural disasters,” Galperin said. “But the City can and should do a better job monitoring rising costs and adopt a data-driven strategy to help track overtime hours across departments.”

In his report, Galperin found that Los Angeles Fire and Los Angeles Police department employees earned 77 percent of all overtime dollars. Much of that is due to staffing models, however, he said. Additionally, Los Angeles has long had fewer firefighters and police officers per capita than other large U.S. cities.

Other top overtime departments included Los Angeles World Airports, Department of Public Works, Department of Transportation and Department of Building and Safety. According to the new report, 36 percent of LAFD and LAPD employees, and 13 percent of all other public employees earned more than 25 percent of their regular salary in overtime.

To decrease overtime costs, Galperin recommended departments increase hiring whenever possible, and track high overtime by individual employees. He also recommended officials adopt policies like those in New York and San Francisco, cities which have set limits on the amount of overtime employees can earn.

Most overtime is paid for by taxpayers, but Los Angeles is often reimbursed for overtime earned by employees assigned to work special events, like the L.A. Marathon and Dodgers games. Reimbursement also occurs for disaster response units in the wake of an emergency declaration.

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