Montgomery County employees rack up $63M in overtime

From January 2011 to June 2012, some Montgomery County employees logged more than one million hours of overtime, racking up about $63 million in extra pay.

“Fair work for fair dollar, that’s what it’s supposed to be,” says Montgomery County resident Joe D’erasmo.

But some officials worry the extra pay isn’t fair, especially when 5,000 hours were taken during vacation-heavy pay periods.

“That’s happening a lot where in the same pay period or multiple pay periods a year, someone is not working their full hours, but is getting paid overtime and we need to reduce that,” says Montgomery County Councilmember Phil Andrews.

A new report shows Fire and Rescue accounted for the most overtime pay, about $27 million, and about 12-percent of that was taken in weeks when firefighters worked few regular hours.

“It’s not a good use of money in my opinion,” says Keri Keenan of Kensington.

But officials say firefighters have a unique schedule that allows for leave on some days and overtime on others. Both could occur in the same week, but the department has to keep at least four people on the fire truck at all times, regardless of overtime levels.

“There’s no gaming the system whatsoever, but we have to stick to the minimum staffing standards and employees, fairly, are eligible through our back-staffing program for that overtime,” says Scott Graham, assistant chief for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services.

But some residents say policies that allow millions of dollars in overtime pay may need a closer look.

“If this is somewhere where we can cut back on expenses then absolutely,” says Merissa Henry of Clarksburg.