L.A. Firefighters, Police Officers and Other City Employees Received Nearly $500 Million in Overtime Pay in 2019
Los Angeles firefighters, police officers and other city employees reported working more than 8 million overtime hours during the 2018-2019 fiscal year, costing the city nearly half a billion dollars in additional funds, officials announced Wednesday.
The report, released by the office of L.A. Controller Ron Galperin on Wednesday, said that 53% of the city’s 53,600 workers were paid overtime.
That amounts to about $470 million, an increase of $23 million from the city’s overtime costs during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to Ian Thompson, a spokesman for the L.A. controller’s office.
Sworn personnel with the L.A. police and fire departments received about 77% of all overtime pay, including 18 people who each earned more than $200,000 in overtime.
Four of them more than doubled their salaries in overtime, according to the report. One firefighter worked 5,616 hours in overtime during the year and received $360,000 in addition to a salary of $126,000, Thompson said.
“While the norm is for regular, full-time employees to work a 40-hour week, overtime is built into the staffing models for sworn firefighters and police officers to ensure public safety during emergencies, such as the recent Getty Fire, when hundreds of firefighters and additional sworn and civilian City personnel were deployed around the clock to save lives and property,” the report said.
The remaining overtime costs for the city, about $135 million, went to civilians who are not sworn members of the police and fire departments. Those include personnel with the Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX and Van Nuys Airport, and the sanitation and transportation departments.
Eleven people each received more than $100,000 in overtime pay, including two employees who more than doubled their salaries.
A traffic officer who has a base salary of $65,000 worked 3,702 hours in overtime during the 2018-2019 fiscal year, earning that employee $174,000 in overtime pay, Thompson said.
Galperin recommended managers explore better analysis to reduce the need for employees to work overtime and policymakers to look into cross-training strategies and other approaches implemented by other cities.
“Although my office concluded that departments properly approved and substantiated the majority of sworn and civilian overtime, there is clearly a need for better oversight and regulation to improve staffing, protect City employees from burnout and fatigue, and ensure that taxpayer funds are spent effectively,” Galperin said in a statement.
While the city gets reimbursed through emergency declaration and for special events such as the the L.A. Marathon and Dodgers games, taxpayers mostly pay for the overtime costs, according to the city.