WARREN - Four of the city employees earning the most overtime hours and pay in 2013 work in the police department, according to city records.
It also is the police department where employees are earning more overtime pay than any other department in the city.
In the first 11 months of 2013, city employees earned $936,909.74 in overtime, which means the city is on pace to spend at least the same amount of overtime as it paid for the entire 12 months of 2012. It paid $1,005,427.96 in overtime to city employees in 2012.
In only three of the last 13 years has the city spent less than $1 million in overtime expenses across all of its departments. The city currently has about 416 full-time employees, not including elected officials and civil service commission members, which pushes the number employees to 430.
Uniformed officers at the police department earned $243,019.61 in overtime so far in 2013, eclipsing the overtime amount earned by members of the division in any single year since 2001. The overtime amount earned in 2001 was $250,325.43.
The overtime amount earned by members of police uniform division in 2012 was $164,657.67.
That does not include court-related overtime, which adds another $62,926.31. It also does not include overtime provided to police department employees for holidays and grants, or overtime earned by the department's dispatchers.
Additional overtime is expected to be earned through the end of this month.
In contrast, the fire department's overtime pay dropped by nearly a half from $95,005.27 for the entire 12 months of 2012 to $50,835.76 during the first 11 months of 2013.
The water department's distribution and filtration divisions were the areas with the next-highest amount of overtime earned at $74,757.22 in the water filtration division and $70,117.71 in its distribution division.
That's less than those two division accumulated in 2011 and 2012.
Robert Davis, the city's water department director, said about half the overtime in the water distribution division comes in December through March when the weather is coldest and there are more water main breaks.
"Generally, breaks happen in the overnight hours after our employees leave for home,'' Davis said. ''We have to call them in to do the repairs. In most cases, we can't wait."
William Campana, supervisor of the distribution division, has earned 229.2 hours of overtime this year because he is always the first to go out to a water main break to determine if it can wait or needs immediate repair.
Davis said the filtration plant is a 24-hour operation.
"If we have people call off, we must call someone else as a replacement," Davis said. "We require our employees to give a three- to four-hour notice if they are calling off sick so we can find someone to replace them. Whenever we can we attempt to do the schedule so we don't have to provide overtime, but that is not always possible."
Cynthia Harnar, who so far has 312 hours worth of overtime in 2013, is a chemist in the department's filtration division. Davis said the division is required by the EPA to test its waters seven days a week and Harnar is the person who does the testing.
Police Chief Eric Merkel said his department's employees earned so much overtime due to a variety of factors, including a period in 2013 when the department only had 59 officers to fill three shifts, 365 days out of the year. There are currently 65 officers in the department.
The city employees with the most overtime hours and earnings are officers Timothy Ladner and Trevor Sumption. Two other police department employees, Martin Gargas and Richard Kovach, have the fifth- and sixth-most overtime hours in the city.
Merkel described the officers as some of the department's most dedicated employees who rarely turn down overtime when it is offered to them.
"Overtime is offered on a rotational basis and many choose not to accept it as often as (them)," Merkel said.
In addition, Merkel said each member of his department was required to go through 40 hours of additional training that was part of the agreement with the Department of Justice.
"When some of our officers were going through the training, others would take their shifts," Merkel said.
The department also had at several longtime officers retire and an officer placed on leave, further reducing the size of the work force.
Additional officers also are often called in to work for shooting investigations. There have been a number of shootings and 10 homicides so far this year.
As of Nov. 1, overtime spending from the city's general fund departments, overall, is on pace with previous years. City records show overtime paid to general fund employees in the first 11 months of 2013 was $625,307.67. Overtime paid in 2012 was $662,255.01
Although two of the city employees with the most overtime work in the municipal court, the overtime amount spent in the court has declined from $26,192.96 in 2012 to $21,003.91 in the first 11 months of 2013. The vast majority of that money went to two court employees.
Judge Thomas Gysegem, administrative judge for the Warren Municipal Court, said two of his employees, Deborah Alberini and Margaret Scott, received so many overtime hours due to the court installing a new computer system.
"We are the beta site for the company, Amcad, which is expected to provide many of the computers for courts throughout the state," Gysegem said. "As the beta site, we are working through many of the issues with the programming being used in the system. There are a tremendous amount of issues that are being worked through, which have required many extra hours for Mrs. Alberini and Mrs. Scott to work with the company.
"It has consumed their lives," Gysegem said. "The computer system is vital to the operation of the courts, so we want this to work correctly."
Based on the work the courts have provided on this project, Gysegem said it received a considerably reduced price for the computer system.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said the amount of overtime in the city's water department was a result of the city having a high number of water main breaks.
"We are in the process of doing a $1.6 million citywide water line replacement program," Franklin said. "Once that is complete, there should be fewer breaks and less required overtime."
Franklin said he has attempted to control the amount of overtime allowed by the city by making department heads responsible for approving overtime requests.
"Because the amount of overtime spending has been so consistent since 2001, I think the amount we pay every year is due to the size of the city," Franklin said. "We have fewer employees, but we still have 200 miles of water and sewer lines, 200 miles of roads and about the same amount of grass to be cut."