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Big bill: Baton Rouge city worker stuns by charging more than 2,600 hours of overtime in one year

The amount of overtime caught the attention of the city's auditor in 2021.

Published: July 30, 2022 1:39pm

Updated: July 31, 2022 11:09pm

(The Center Square) -

An emergency medical service supervisor in Baton Rouge made $87,701 in annual overtime on average from 2019 through 2021, working an average of 2,455 hours in overtime each year.

A deputy shift supervisor has been one of the city’s top-paid employees since 2019, according to city records. The deputy shift supervisor's gross pay ranged from $150,552 to $165,806 from 2019 to 2021.

In 2019, the deputy shift supervisor worked 2,605 hours in overtime.

A city employee stated that emergency medical service workers do work under minimum staffing requirements, similar to what fire departments use. That means if the minimum number of people required to work a shift is not available, the department must call in other workers to fill those vacant positions. EMS workers work 12 hour shifts in Baton Rouge and also get paid time-and-a-half on holidays. That means if they work a 12-hour shift on a holiday, EMS workers get paid for 18 hours of work.

In the City of Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish 2021 financial report, the auditors found in a review that controls over overtime pay lacked supervisor approval and the certification of time worked was lacking in some city departments. The audit covers the consolidated government of the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. In 2021, there were 23 employees who made $50,000 or more in overtime. The highest was a police sergeant who made $108,031 in overtime and had gross pay of $173,434.

The median household income in Baton Rouge is $44,177, according to the U.S. Census.

The city stated in 2021, the average overtime payment to police employees was $5,820 and fire employees made on average $4,030 a year in overtime. There were 3,500 people that were on the city/parish payroll in 2021. The consolidated government spent $12.6 million in overtime in 2021 and is projected to spend $12.7 million in overtime in 2022, according to budget documents.

Seven city employees in Baton Rouge-East Baton Rouge Parish who worked in the police, EMS services and environmental services departments submitted more than 2,000 hours in overtime during a single year over the past three years.

This follows similar trends in other cities around the country where city employees like firefighters and transit employees are making as much as $100,000 or more in overtime pay.

The amount of overtime caught the attention of the city's auditor in 2021.

“The controls as designed do not include reviews of time, effort and pay across multiple pay periods. Such a review could detect overtime outliers for further review,” the report said.

One of the 2020 overtime outliers is EMS employees with 1,500-2,400 overtime hours and police employees with 1,500-1,900 overtime hours in 2020.

The city stated in budget documents that it had addressed the concerns on overtime. That included using temporary employees to reduce overtime in some departments, such as EMS. The city also has its Human Resources department send out a report to supervisors and the auditing manager any time an employee exceeds $5,000 in overtime during a pay period.

A police sergeant made over $100,000 in overtime in 2019, 2020 and 2021. That sergeant's gross pay ranged from $176,141 to $163,615 from 2019 to 2021.

One police sergeant and a lieutenant also regularly made over $90,000 in overtime in those same years.

The City of Baton Rouge did not respond to an email with questions about the verification process of overtime in the city.

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