City outspends its overtime budget for ninth-straight year

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The city outspent its overtime budget for the fiscal year that ended in July — for the ninth year in a row, according to Philadelphia's fiscal watchdog.

This comes at a time when the city has its highest staffing level since the Great Recession.

Harvey Rice, executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), said overtime spending did decrease last year, but he said the previous year hit a record high. This year's figure, $173 million, is the second-highest ever.

"They are making strides, but they're minimal. And we think they need to do more to rein in these costs because high overtime costs take money from other needed city services," he said.

A city spokesperson acknowledged the need for improvement, saying the city is committed to keeping overtime "stable, manageable and responsible."

She said "the Budget Office will continue to work with all departments on a regular basis to monitor overtime usage, understand the drivers of overtime, and make any necessary adjustments to departmental budgets to ensure that they remain within their anticipated target spending levels for personnel costs."

Rice said there were some improvements last year, but PICA remains concerned because staffing levels have been steadily rising since 2012. That's helped some departments control overtime, but it hasn't had the desired effect of reducing overall overtime costs.