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City of San Diego Audit Finds $250K in Overtime Compensation Errors

The audit found that the police, fire-rescue and public utilities departments accounted for 85 percent of all overtime payments.

City of San Diego officials promised today to train employees and their supervisors and clarify policies after $250,000 in errors were found in an audit of overtime compensation requests.

The audit issued Dec. 31 found that the vast majority of the $57.8 million in overtime paid to workers in fiscal year 2011 was appropriately earned, but the city could still have saved some money. The report was presented to the City Council's Audit Committee today.

About $250,000 of the payments was the result of employees' errors when they listed comp time or annual leave in their overtime request forms, according to City Auditor Eduardo Luna, who recommended that the city clarify its overtime eligibility rules, train employees on the regulations and rework its overtime request forms.

"It's a complex area, and you only get compliance through really good training of all employees and also all of the approving supervisors," City Comptroller Ken Whitfield told committee members. "I think through the audit, that was really something that desperately needed to be done, and it's something my office is addressing in response to this audit."

He said the training issues should affect only a small percentage of employees.

The city's overtime expenditure in fiscal 2011 was 2.6 percent of its $2.2 billion operating budget and made up 8 percent of all employee compensation. The audit found that the police, fire-rescue and public utilities departments accounted for 85 percent of all overtime payments.

The city pays time-and-a-half for extra hours worked, based on personnel laws and union agreements.

City Personnel Director Hadi Dehghani told committee members that a working group of management, along with a union representative, is going over municipal overtime regulations.

Some provisions will need to be clarified, others will have to be changed and some policy issues will have to be addressed, Dehghani said. He said amendments would have to be cleared by the Civil Service Commission, employee unions and City Council.

Part of the problem is that various groups of employees, primarily those belonging to different unions, have different rules regarding overtime, annual leave and other benefits, according to Dehghani.

Audit Committee Chairman Kevin Faulconer said $250,000 is a significant amount of money.

"We have a very large city budget, but we're constantly looking at ways to run as efficiently as we should," Faulconer said.

Committee members voted unanimously to receive the report and forward it to the full City Council.

—City News Service

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