OT for city workers tough to slow down

City workers reaped an additional $1.8 million in overtime in the first quarter of this fiscal year compared to last, according to a city controller’s report released yesterday. This comes despite a budgetary edict to slash overtime costs.

“If this continues each quarter, by the time the fiscal year ends next June, it could be a problem. It’s definitely something to take notice of,” said Dries, spokesman for the controller’s office. “This gives us an idea of where we stand for the year so far.”

Total overtime cost from July through September was $29.2 million, compared to $27.4 million last year. The police and fire departments led the way with $1 million and $500,000 respectively. Other departments with increased overtime were health, recreation, DHS, fleet management, libraries and the courts.

Bill Gault, president of the firefighters union, took notice since — in an ongoing battle with Mayor Michael Nutter — rolling brownouts were presented as an overtime-reducing stopgap. “It’s just getting ridiculous,” Gault said. “It seems like we’re his ATM.”

There were a couple of positives: The sheriff’s office and prisons are down, 37 and 7 percent respectively. City Finance Director Rob Dubow said the controller’s report doesn’t come as a surprise. Despite recent numbers, he said the police department cut nearly $4.5 million from 2008 to 2009 while fire cut more than $1 million.