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City curbs overtime spending after huge 10-year increase

By Tom Momberg

The Independent Budget Office has released a report analyzing the amount the city has spent on overtime for its employees over the past 10 years, revealing the greatest increase in that span of time had gone to uniformed personnel.

The IBO’s report found that the city spent about $716 million on NYPD overtime in Fiscal Year 2015, compared to $412 million in 2006—an increase of 74 percent.

The mayoral administration said much of the police overtime mentioned in the IBO report gets reimbursed—such as the hours put in during the UN General Assembly.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio struck a deal with City Council to hire 1,300 new police officers for $170 million by the end of the current fiscal year, he touted the potential relief from rapidly growing overtime spending in the department.

Many of the new hires were brought on for neighborhood policing, which was first piloted in Queens South as part of the city’s One City: Safe and Fair Everywhere initiative.

The mayor also instituted a cap of $513 million on city-funded uniformed overtime for the NYPD for Fiscal Year 2016, with a cap of $454 million every year thereafter.

“This administration has taken major steps to reduce overtime where it makes sense, such as unprecedented overtime reforms at the NYPD that will ultimately save $70 million a year,” a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said.

In total, uniformed personnel from police, fire, correction and sanitation departments accounted for 70 percent of the city’s overtime spending—an increase of about $555 million since 2006 to roughly $1.19 billion in 2015.

The mayor’s office said FDNY is working on hiring to reduce discretionary overtime, which saw a huge bump following the firefighter-hiring lawsuit U.S. and Vulcan Society v. City of New York, that resulted in a four-year hiring freeze.

The mayor’s office also said the city Department of Correction is working to fill vacancies to relieve overtime spending, and that an uptick in sanitation spending in the last fiscal year was associated with snow-removal needs.

“At a number of agencies, using overtime—rather than hiring new staff, which would cost the City both salaries and benefits—is the fiscally prudent thing to do to ensure New Yorkers receive the services they need,” a spokeswoman for the mayor said.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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