An unnamed city employee in Calgary 911 has worked a lot of overtime, according to documents made public Thursday.
Following an administrative request from councillors Jeromy Farkas and Sean Chu in April, CFO Carla Male submitted a report on overtime from the past four years for Monday’s city council meeting.
In two subsequent years, more than $100,000 in overtime was paid out to a city worker. The report was unclear whether it was the same individual or just within a given business unit.
According to the data, the city paid an average of $30.1 million in overtime between 2017 and 2020 to an average of 8,227 city employees. Calgary Police Service paid an average of $13.6 million to an average of 2,154 CPS employees over the same time period.
In her report, Male said the four-year average represents just more than two per cent of the city’s salary and wage expenses, and one per cent of the city’s total annual expenditures.
2018 marked a high point in the number and amount of overtime paid out, with $33.2 million going to 8,538 city employees.
Male noted that very few employees receive high overtime payouts, with city business areas with more volatile service requirements from the community and needing uninterrupted support generally resulting in overtime payouts.
“Approximately 95 per cent of employees received less than $10,000 and 98.5 per cent of employees received less than $20,000 in overtime annually,” the city’s CFO wrote.
But it was in 2019 that the highest single payout of overtime was made: $111,539.55 was paid to an unnamed employee at Calgary 911, in the Community Standards department. In 2018, $100,319.65 was the next-highest overtime payout, again to an individual in Calgary 911.
Both Male and Community Standards GM Katie Black declined an interview with Global News, instead waiting to make their comments at Monday’s council meeting.
On Thursday, Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas said there have always been questions about overtime at the city.
“But no one’s actually gone down and run the numbers.”
Farkas recognized that overtime has its place in any organization, but called the numbers “just ridiculous.”
“It’s bad for taxpayers, but it’s also bad for the employees themselves because they’re not properly staffing some areas of the city and it could potentially lead to burnout,” the ward 11 representative said.
“I would argue if you’re at $110,000 an all-time overtime payments for a given year, you’re probably not putting in your best work either.”
On Thursday, Nenshi said the six-digit overtime payouts to Calgary 911 “raised my eyebrows a little bit.” But he said the rest of the data looked normal given the city’s 15,000-person workforce, “a relatively small percentage of employees who need to take overtime.”
“Management-exempt employees had to do a lot of OT during COVID-19 — we laid off a lot of people, that made sense to me,” Nenshi said.
The mayor said the oversized amounts should be looked into by city officials.
Farkas wants an independent review of the city’s overtime policy and to publish a so-called “sunshine list” for overtime.
“Having public disclosure of payouts like this on a regular basis could help spot waste and inefficiencies,” he said. “And I’d also be pushing for things like a cap on overtime payments to not have such runaway compensation happen for future years.”
Response Administrative Inquiry – Overtime Costs