Lee County’s administrators and elected officials are paying millions in taxpayer dollars for employees to work beyond 40 hours a week.
Officials are struggling to hold down overtime pay as tightened budgets have left work staffs depleted.
Local governments in Lee County paid almost 2,500 employees about $9.4 million in overtime during the 2008 fiscal year.
Most came from an understaffed public safety department where overtime is largely built into paramedic and emergency personnel contracts.
The Lee Clerk of Courts, sheriff’s office and election supervisor handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime.
The News-Press and WINK News collaborated to analyze local government overtime.
“Emergencies are not scheduled, we have to be prepared,” said David Kainrad, Lee EMS manager. “We are down 24 positions from a year ago this time.”
The county paid almost $6.2 million in overtime to 290 EMS, paramedics and communications officers last fiscal year, which ended in October. The EMS payroll system is complicated, with employees working 12- and 24-hour shifts. A collective bargaining agreement under its scheduled three-year negotiation period, has overtime built into schedules.
But that doesn’t completely explain multiple paramedics almost doubling their yearly salary with overtime, making some of them six-figure employees.
Paramedic Terrence Mindykowski made $57,000 in overtime on top of a $33,000 salary.
“My reply would be it is money earned, they worked for it, it wasn’t handed to them. They stepped to the plate when we needed it,” said Kainrad, a 30-year department veteran.
In May, an analysis by The News-Press revealed Cape Coral spent more than $3.9 million in overtime, with 12 people earning more than $20,000. That was an improvement from the year before when 21 people earned that much.
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By Ryan Lengerich
The News Press