February 29, 2016

Grains of Salt (v5): Overtime Overdrive

What's spilling out of the salt shaker tonight? Overtime. Lots and lots of overtime.

First up, a question for you: where you work, do department heads get paid overtime?

You know, managers and directors and VPs and the like? Or even supervisors, the ones we call 'front-line management' in the corporate world?

In that corporate world, at least that I've experienced, they don't. Once you're management, you're out of the hourly mix and paid a salary that covers the regular hours you're expected to put in, as well as a few extra. For, as I learned many long years ago, there are 168 hours in a week and if it takes you all of them to do your job, so be it.

Now, clearly that's harsh, and unrealistic, and not work-life balanced or any of those other things, but there's some logic in thinking that management folks are paid to do what needs to be done, and that they've moved beyond hourly wage responsibilities, and so have correspondingly moved beyond hourly pay and time-and-a-half for their extra time.

So, having always worked in an office environment (fortunately not long in one like the draconian 168-hours-in-a-week situation), I continue to be surprised that the Chief of the Syracuse Fire Department gets paid overtime. And so does the Chief of the Syracuse Police Department. And so do a whole host of 'managers' within the SFD and the SPD.

The top 90 wage earners for 2015 in the City of Syracuse are all either SPD or SFD. There might be more, that's just the slice of the data that shows folks who made more than Mayor Stephanie Miner, who has a salary of $115,000 - with no overtime. Collectively, the top 90 earned $4,954,489 more than their base pay - an average of $55,668 each.  Thirty-two are police officers, two are firefighters - and the rest are 'ranked' or 'titled' in some way, making it at least appear that they have some kind of management responsibility.

The city's adding some new officers this spring, we were told in the mayor's State of the City address, and at least on the SPD side, they are trying to address the persistent overtime recipients through counseling, or limiting how many hours they can get, but I'm not sure that's going to tackle the OT at the top of the org chart - and that's where it looks like we need some creative solutions.

Can't there be some way that we can pay a reasonable, no-overtime salary to the leaders of our finest and bravest, at least through the first few levels of the org chart, and still get good people to serve?  Can't we find a way to suitably reward them, but not pay out boatloads of overtime, and the corresponding bumped-up pensions that go along with these wages?

Anyone have any ideas?