Here We Snow AGAIN
Aug 27, 2014 at 3:19 PM
Overtime pay for Sandusky’s street and traffic employees is piling up faster than the inches of snow bombarding northern Ohio.
Bitter temperatures and excessive snowfall has resulted in overtime pay skyrocketing to $9,500 thus far this winter season, according to city data the Register obtained through a public records request.
The overtime funds, fronted by area taxpayers, reflect the two most recent and available pay periods, from Dec. 19 through Jan. 15.
A year ago, these two pay periods yielded an overtime amount of about $4,800.
It’s a testament to the severity of the weather in recent weeks, particularly as most of the overtime goes to snow plow drivers.
But others — including employees patching up potholes and taking down Christmas decorations in Washington Park — also claim stake to these funds, Sandusky engineer Aaron Klein said.
City workers obtaining overtime pay typically receive 1.5 times their normal salary. An employee earning $20 an hour, for instance, stands to receive $30 per hour when eclipsing a certain number of hours.
Snow plow drivers and others can also receive inflated wages when they’re required to work weekends, or when they’re called in for some other winter-related catastrophe.
“During the last couple weeks, there has been a significant amount of overtime with the weather and the water main breaks and the plowing,” Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej said. “Citywide, everyone is very tapped out”
While it’s certainly necessary to clear the white stuff off streets, city officials remain fearful of paying out much more overtime, as it would further deplete an already-drained budget.
The city has projected a $16.3 million everyday operating budget for 2014, with a $1.1 million shortfall. The budget covers many daily services, including police and fire operations. Officials have already proposed several cuts, including at least four layoffs to firefighters.
Municipal governments such as Sandusky must approve a balanced budget, where income levels either match or exceed expenses, by March.
While officials do stash money away for overtime, paying out an amount above what they budgeted for could further strain operations.
“I don’t think anyone anticipated this weather starting out in 2014,” Solowiej said. “All the department heads will have to revisit this situation to make sure they budgeted a reasonable amount of overtime”