Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration says overtime pay must be reigned in. The mayor called for an investigation Wednesday into the matter in hopes that it will save the city and taxpayers money.
The investigation comes after the administration discovered that at least 550 Metro employees—about 10 percent of the city’s staff—were earning $15,000 or more in overtime every year. The mayor sent a memorandum to the city’s chief financial officer and human resources director to conduct the investigation.
Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter says there is undoubtedly abuse in the system, and it’s likely been going on for years.
“In the past, we could afford to pay overtime. We can’t anymore,” he says, “Just like in a household, when money is tight, you need to look at every expense. Do you need that steak? Can you get by with chicken?”
There is no exact accounting of how much money the city has spent on unplanned overtime, but Poynter says it is a widespread problem.
“It’s really across the board. More concentrated in public safety: EMS, MetroSafe, Fire, Police, but, again, it’s across the board,” he says.
Some overtime is budgeted and planned for. Firefighters, for instance, get overtime pay for overnight shifts. The mayor’s office will wait until after the review is complete before deciding whether to try to limit overtime or hire more employees to take the load off of existing workers.
Metro Council Budget Committee Chairwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, says overtime isn’t something the city can simply cut.
“It all depends on the department,” she says. “You can’t just say ‘We’re going to cut out overtime.’ Because if we have a harsh winter, the community’s really going to be on us if we can’t go out and plow those streets.”
The investigation will take about a month.
Calls to the Teamsters and AFSCME unions were not returned.