analysis: Records show Ann Arbor city employees making tens of thousands of dollars in extra pay
David Monroe made $126,247 in wages last year as a detective in the Ann Arbor Police Department, about $44,000 beyond his base salary.
In addition to his regular pay, which included more than $20,000 in paid time off and sick pay, Monroe collected $39,327 in overtime and $2,134 in various allowances.
Bill Stanford, another detective in the police department, and Rodney Whitehead, one of the department's senior officers, both made more than $112,000 last year.
In Stanford's case, that's nearly $32,000 more than his base salary, and it's nearly $38,000 more than Whitehead's base salary.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
They aren't anomalous for their extra earnings, though.
Dozens of other city employees — including many firefighters and police officers — are making significantly more money than their published base salaries would suggest, according to an analysis of city records obtained by AnnArbor.com under the Freedom of Information Act.
When factoring in overtime, comp time payouts, bonuses and other cash perks like food and vehicle allowances, city employees sometimes are making tens of thousands of dollars extra per year.
Overtime is a big factor. City employees racked up more than $3.3 million in OT last year. That compares to $2.5 million in 2010 and $2.6 million in 2009.
As the city has scaled back its work force — once above 1,000 employees and now under 700 — many of those left on the job are working extra hours.
"That is a connection you could make with certain or specific parts of our organization," said City Administrator Steve Powers, who acknowledged that's the case with police.
Powers said the city has taken the approach in some departments that paying extra overtime simply makes more sense than hiring additional employees. But when possible, he said, the city has adjusted work schedules to reduce overtime costs.
"Certainly we monitor overtime use," Powers said. "But overtime can be more cost-effective than adding personnel."
Based on city payroll records for 652 full-time employees, AnnArbor.com was able to identify at least 186 — more than a quarter — were paid at least $10,000 more than their listed base salaries last year. That includes 37 employees who saw gains of $20,000 or more, and that's not counting employees who retired last year and saw even larger payouts.
In all, the city paid out nearly $55 million in wages in 2011, and 48 employees made six figures when factoring in all forms of pay, according to AnnArbor.com's analysis. Another 63 employees made at least $90,000 but just shy of six figures.
Going into overtime
More than $1.4 million in overtime last year — including $580,260 in double OT — was paid out in the police department, which averages out to nearly $8,500 per employee.
It's been estimated in the past that the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in overtime having officers appear in court.
"Overtime can be incurred for a variety of reasons," said John Seto, interim police chief. "It could be for staffing needs or court appearances or any type of significant criminal activity that might create some overtime, and also special contracted or grant-funded events."
A total of $375,530 in overtime was paid out in the fire department, which averages out to nearly $5,000 per firefighter. Counting other wages, more than 50 fire department employees made at least $10,000 more than their base salaries last year.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
About $250,000 of the city's total overtime bill for 2011 was reported as cashed-in comp time, while another $422,000-plus in comp time was actually used.
One example of a large overtime payout last year involved Fire Chief Chuck Hubbard, who pulled in $157,871 in total wages after cashing in tens of thousands of dollars in unused comp time built up over several years.
Hubbard, who was named Ann Arbor's new fire chief halfway through the year, previously made $83,539 as assistant chief. He now has a base salary of $115,000.
Hubbard couldn't carry over his comp time when he became chief last June and left the firefighters union. Payroll records show he collected $48,223 in overtime, plus $3,248 in food, vehicle, cell phone and equipment allowances.
In all, the city paid out nearly $720,000 in various allowances to city employees last year, including $241,000 for uniforms, $137,531 for cell phones, $68,650 for vehicles, $99,560 for equipment and $81,864 for food. Longevity pay totaled $332,263.
The city also footed the bill for nearly $1.8 million worth of sick pay, and an extra $822,834 was paid out to employees for working in a higher class.
The Ann Arbor City Council is expected to vote Monday night on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes $382 million in spending and $405 million in revenue.
About 28 percent of the city's entire budget this year — without counting internal service funds — was budgeted to be spent on personnel costs, including wages and benefits.
"We allow each department to manage their resources in the most optimal way for themselves, so in one circumstance someone might say overtime is the most appropriate way to deal with a situation," he said. "We allow the managers flexibility."
AnnArbor.com requested a copy of the police department's overtime policy and received a memo issued by former Police Chief Barnett Jones effective July 2009. The policy leaves it up to department supervisors to determine when OT is appropriate.
Other city policies on overtime and comp time are written into the negotiated labor agreements for each city bargaining unit.
Ann Arbor police officers said they work hard for the extra money showing up in their paychecks.
One officer who spoke with AnnArbor.com said police are working a lot of extra overtime due to the elimination of dozens of jobs in their department in recent years.
"In the police department, we continue to manage our overtime," said Seto, who doesn't think it has reached a problem level. "But as we work through getting our staffing to authorized levels, all of our personnel are working very hard to maintain services."
Seto noted the city is looking to hire some new officers soon. The city swore in five new full-time officers just recently and is sifting through hundreds of applications as it prepares to hire another six full-time officers and five part-time officers by July 1.
City officials said they hope that helps curtail overtime costs.
Mayor John Hieftje said he relies on the city's staff to watch the numbers and determine where it makes sense to hire more employees instead of paying overtime.
If the numbers worked out, he said, "I would look very favorably on a recommendation from the administration to hire more people to avoid overtime costs."
The city of Livonia, with a payroll of more than $40 million and 528 full-time employees, paid out $2 million in overtime last year, according to the city's finance director.
Grand Rapids, with more than 1,400 full-time employees and a payroll of more than $97 million, paid out nearly $4.3 million in overtime last year, a city official there said.
Big pay for retirees
AnnArbor.com's analysis of city payroll records shows some of the biggest wage gainers in Ann Arbor were actually employees on their way out the door.
A number of employees who retired last year were able to boost their wages significantly, and that may have helped increase the size of their pensions in some cases.
Lt. Mark St. Amour, who retired as head of the police department's detective division in December, earned $113,133 in wages last year. His base salary was $88,982.
St. Amour collected $91,621 in regular pay, including more than $22,000 in paid time off, plus $3,032 in allowances and $18,480 in overtime and cashed-in comp time.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Scott Robertson, who retired as a fire lieutenant last July, made $100,821 in wages in half a year. His base salary was $68,078.
Robertson collected $42,817 in regular pay, $1,656 in allowances, $8,062 in overtime and $48,286 in severance pay. He now has a pension worth $60,554 a year.
Michael Masten, who retired as the fire department's master mechanic last June, made $207,701 in six months last year, making him the highest-paid employee in the city.
His base salary was $74,162.
Masten collected $38,437 in regular pay, $1,949 in allowances, $7,491 in overtime and cashed-in comp time, and $159,824 in severance pay.
He now has a pension worth $41,467 a year.
Ed Dziubinski, who was eligible for overtime as assistant fire chief, collected $195,631 in wages last year before retiring in mid-November. His base salary was $82,322.
Dziubinski collected $75,797 in regular pay, including more than $17,000 in paid time off and sick pay, plus $8,309 in allowances, $10,325 in overtime and cashed-in comp time, and $101,201 in severance pay. He now has a pension worth $32,223 a year.
Greg Hollingsworth, another assistant fire chief for the city, made $107,627 in wages before retiring Feb. 21 last year. His base salary was $83,539.
Hollingsworth collected $15,149 in regular pay, $1,622 in allowances, $393 in overtime and $90,463 in severance pay. He now has a pension worth $70,212 a year.
Douglas Warsinski, an inspector for the fire department, pulled in $133,163 in wages before retiring July 5 last year. His base salary was $70,710.
Warsinski collected $40,923 in regular pay, $2,131 in allowances, $11,931 in overtime and cashed-in comp time, and $78,808 in severance pay.
He now has a pension worth $37,016 a year.
Roger Fraser, who resigned as city administrator last April, pulled in $118,056 in wages while working less than a third of the year. His base salary was $145,355.
Fraser collected $55,906 in regular pay, including more than $6,700 in paid time off in four months, plus $2,680 in allowances and $59,470 in severance pay.
He now has a pension worth $38,061 a year.
Sue McCormick, who resigned as the city's public services administrator in December to take a job in Detroit, made $176,774 in wages in 2011. Her base salary was $135,600.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
She now has a pension worth $33,741 a year.
Gerry Dann, who retired as a civil engineering specialist for the city last May, earned $105,743 in wages last year. His base salary was $67,392.
Dann collected $30,861 in regular pay, $570 in allowances, $1,584 in overtime and cashed-in comp time, and $47,570 in severance pay.
He made another $25,159 in temporary pay after he was brought back on as a contract employee three days after he retired. He now has a pension worth $59,997 a year.
In all, the city paid out more than $2.3 million in severance pay in 2011. It's unclear from the records obtained by AnnArbor.com how many employees shared in those payments.
Asked to explain the large severance packages paid out to some employees, several top city officials said they didn't know the details but it has to do with union contracts.
"The individuals who are in bargaining units are subject to those contracts and, in some cases, that would be whatever is in that contract," Crawford said.
"Everything in the fire department is determined by contract," Hieftje said. "We've made some progress with the contract we have now, but there's still more progress to be made."
Powers said there are examples of employees who retired from the city and rarely took sick leave and made themselves available for overtime during the course of a career that spanned 30-plus years, and the city pays employees their earned time upon retirement.
He noted earned time or severance pay cannot be included to calculate the pensions for employees hired since 1982.
"How much earned time is paid to an employee upon his or her retirement is defined in each collective bargaining agreement," Powers added.
- Go here to see a list of active Ann Arbor employees who made at least $10,000 more than their base salaries last year