In 2012, several Chicago city workers earned cash in sums that eclipsed their base salary — including one OEMC Police Communications Operator who banked more than her boss — by doing time.
RedEye Chicago was the first to call out new data recently published on the City of Chicago's website which reveals just how much city workers like 911 operators, firefighters and police detectives made in overtime pay last year. RedEye notes more than two-dozen city workers netted more than $50,000 each in overtime.
(See the city worker salary information below.)
While fifty grand is a handsome salary for many, according to city data, it's pocket change (ok, not really) compared to the highest OT-earner in the city: a Police Communications Operator with the department of Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) pulled in $91,115.78 worth of overtime pay in ten months.
The city's overtime policy has enabled some earnings that were perhaps not anticipated: add the $91,000 in overtime to that highest-OT-earning OEMC worker's base salary of nearly $78,000 and the total tops OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel pay by roughly $1,000.
Several other workers, most of them detectives in the police department, doubled their annual salary through overtime pay.
The city's 2013 budget earmarked $32 million for overtime pay. In a release presenting the budget to the City Council, overtime pay for police was called an "investment" in public safety. "Weekend surge" overtime pay was made available on a year-round basis in the budget rather than strictly summer weekends.
Despite 2012's surging homicide rate, "overall crime" — car theft, rape, burlary — was down eight percent since 2011, according to a December report by ABC Chicago.
City Office of Budget and Management spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle told RedEye the city does indeed weigh whether paying workers overtime or hiring more bodies is the most cost-effective move.
"Hiring additional employees has its own costs, including training and the cost of employee benefits, and may not always be the best solution to address any short-term increases in overtime," said Holye.