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10-15-07, 11:31 PM #1
Anchorage PD overbudget, 2nd year running
Call it double overtime.
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For the second year in a row, the Anchorage Police Department will spend twice as much on overtime pay as planned.
One senior patrol officer has collected about $90,000 in overtime already this year, more than doubling his regular salary, according to city payroll records.
All told, the city has overspent on police overtime by about 90 percent over the past five years. Yet as city leaders debate how much to spend in 2008, the budget proposed by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich calls for no increase in overtime for cops.
Instead, the spending plan says the police department will spend less on police overtime than it has since 1999.
Does anyone think that will actually happen?
"Even though we have been grossly underestimating total overtime every year, picking any other number would be strictly arbitrary," said city manager Denis LeBlanc, who oversees the Police Department.
Police say you can't predict things like murders or missing-persons cases, which can be costly to solve. They say that crime happens at all hours, when people have to be called in to work to investigate, and that Anchorage has fewer officers than other cities its size.
Whatever the reason, overtime costs have grown even as the number of police officers increased. A review of city budgets and records, as well as interviews with city officials, found:
• Because of overtime, about 70 Police Department employees -- mostly senior patrol officers -- had earned more this year than the police chief as of Sept. 30.
• The Police Department accounts for 41 percent of all city overtime spending so far this year. The average Police Department overtime pay has been $50.25 per hour this year, according to city payroll numbers.
• In some cases, police officers with the highest pay get first chance at overtime.
• Some officers nearing retirement have an incentive to work overtime so that their pensions will be higher.
As for why the city underestimates the police overtime budget each year, LeBlanc said budget writers must work within a tax cap and have only so much to spend. In a typical year, the city spends less than the full amount budgeted for regular police salaries.
LeBlanc said a "significant" amount of the extra overtime costs are paid for with money from funded but vacant police positions.
'CALL OUTS' AND 'SPECIAL DETAILS'
City officials say vacancies boost overtime, as officers work extra to cover for openings on the force. But in some ways filling the vacancies can cause overtime too, they say.
When Begich ran for re-election last year -- endorsed by the police union -- he pointed to an increased number of police officers as a point of pride. He said recently that Anchorage has about 50 more police than in 2003.
Last week, Police Chief Rob Heun said the Police Department had 368 sworn officers plus 30 vacancies. He said the number of unfilled jobs should shrink to about seven with a new academy beginning in November.
But new officers lead to more arrests, more court time and more holiday pay, police officials say.
"If you have more officers out there making more arrests, they can't always do it within the confines of their 10-hour shift," said Deputy Chief Ross Plummer.
At least 20 percent of the department's overtime this year has been spent on "call outs," where off-duty officers respond to, say, a sexual assault, a murder or a person hit by a car.
The department spent at least 15 percent of overtime on "special details," such as directing traffic or working Fur Rendezvous or an Alaska Aces game.
Police are guaranteed certain types of overtime by their union's contract with the city. For example, police get at least three hours of overtime pay when they're subpoenaed to appear in court on their day off, even if they show up for an hour or less.
Also under the contract -- patrol officers who work an extra three hours on their shift can claim an extra half hour of overtime pay to make up for a missed meal.
Other overtime costs come from big cases or big events.
The August disappearance of Mindy Schloss, the psychiatric nurse whose body was later found in Mat-Su, has cost the department more than $38,000 in detective overtime so far, Heun said.
In May, the city hosted an International Whaling Commission meeting, which had a controversial agenda and the potential for protests. Police officials estimate it cost the department $420,000 to $470,000 to train for and police the event.
"Was it a good investment? Well, we've had good reports back from the IWC about the people's sense of security ... which pays benefits downstream if Anchorage wants to host another event like that," Heun said.
The Police Department doesn't pay all overtime costs itself. As much as 20 percent of the bills are covered by grants or other city agencies and other reimbursements, Heun said.
When the chance to work certain scheduled overtime comes up, the job sometimes goes to higher-paid officers, rather than newer employees to save costs.
That's a rule in the police labor contract. The most senior police officers get first crack at this overtime.
Depending on how close to retirement those senior officers are and when they were hired, lots of overtime now can pay off for many years by giving them bigger pensions, which can be based on their top three consecutive income years.
"Obviously there are probably some working toward their retirement, the more senior officers who are trying to get their high three," said Heun, a former union president.
Police officers hired between 1984 and 1994 can't count overtime toward their retirement, he said, because of changing retirement plans.
In nine months this year, the department has already spent more on overtime than in all of last year.
Asked if there is now a freeze on overtime, police and city officials said no, the department can't do that.
"We'll never compromise public safety because of a budget issue," LeBlanc said.
Still, the deputy chief, Plummer, said all overtime is under close watch with decisions on how to keep costs low left up to shift commanders.
By the end of the year, the Assembly must approve a budget for 2008. The mayor has asked for $2.7 million for police overtime -- almost $3 million less than the department has spent so far this year.
"Our point to the Police Department is, now that you're getting this benefit of personnel, you have to also now show value," Begich said.
Asked if he can keep overtime spending to that limit, Heun said, "I'm not Pollyanna-ish.
"Historically, we haven't come close," he said. "We've tried. We've continued to try."
10-15-07, 11:37 PM #2
My brother was telling me that there are some investigations pending into claimed overtime....top earner made more then the Police Chief...police chief salary not listed on APD website, so don't know how much more they were making them him.
10-15-07, 11:37 PM #3
10-15-07, 11:42 PM #4
I'm sorry but I smell a rat. I've worked a crapload of overtime this year and I'd estimate its only 1/4 of my salary, give or take. To be making more than double my salary I'd have to put in 80 hours a week or better. Every week. All year long. Someone definately needs to investigate all this OT.Are you a 3%er? If you aren't, you should be.
10-15-07, 11:56 PM #5
10-15-07, 11:57 PM #6
excerpt from www.joinapd.org
SALARY AND BENEFITS SUMMARY (2008 figures used)
- <LI class=MsoNormal>The starting wage of a Patrol Officer Recruit is $26.49/hr. Lateral Officers start at $27.89/hr. Max hourly wage for Senior Officer of $34.06/hr is reached at the end of six years. These figures do not include shift differentials, overtime, specialty assignment pay, or educational incentives. <LI class=MsoNormal>2006 average salary for a 1st year officer was $66,551 <LI class=MsoNormal>2006 average salary for a 3rd year officer was $72,067 <LI class=MsoNormal>2006 average salary for a 5th year officer was $84,142 <LI class=MsoNormal>2006 average salary for a 10th year officer was $95,964 <LI class=MsoNormal>The Municipality of Anchorage has an excellent health coverage plan for the employee and eligible dependents. <LI class=MsoNormal>There are currently eleven and a half paid holidays per year. <LI class=MsoNormal>Shift overtime on the first and third days off is paid at 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay. Overtime on the second day off is paid at 2 times the regular rate of pay. <LI class=MsoNormal>Compensation for court time during off-duty hours is paid at the overtime rate with a three hour minimum guarantee <LI class=MsoNormal>Associates degree may qualify for a 4% increase over base pay; Bachelors degree may qualify for an 8% increase over base pay. <LI class=MsoNormal>The Municipality pays tuition and book expenses for all employees enrolled in accredited university courses. <LI class=MsoNormal>5+ weeks of vacation which increases to 6 weeks after five years. <LI class=MsoNormal>Sick leave accrues at the rate of 6 hours per pay period, or 19.5 days per year to a maximum bank of 520 hours. <LI class=MsoNormal>Anchorage Patrol Officers enrolled in a retirement plan through the Alaska Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). <LI class=MsoNormal>Optional 401K with one to one matching funds and/or 457 deferred compensation plans. <LI class=MsoNormal>Uniforms and and equipment provided and $200 every other year for clothing allowance. <LI class=MsoNormal>Take home car program.
- Patrol Officers are required to participate in the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association (APDEA).
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