Onondaga County looking to save taxpayer money by controlling overtime costs

Onondaga County lawmakers are looking for ways to control overtime costs.

Legislator Mark Stanczyk introduced a special proposal at Monday morning's Ways and Means Committee meeting. The proposal would limit all county employees to not more than $10,000 per year in overtime pay. Stanczyk also wants the legislature to be automatically notified when a county employee earns more than $5,000 in overtime over a four month period.

The proposal comes after reports of large amounts of overtime being paid to officers within the

Onondaga County Sheriff's Department

. Deputies at the Onondaga County Justice Center racked up 60,000 hours of overtime last year. Stanczyk says, "There are concerns about safety, first off. There are also concerns about fairness. Is it right that somebody that has a $55,000 base pay is earning $140,000? It goes above and beyond the normal concept of what is fair and reasonable and what is unreasonable and unfair."

Civil Department Chief John Balloni says the sheriff's department already closely tracks overtime costs. He says much of the current overtime budget is the result of state mandates. There are minimum manpower requirements in the Onondaga County Justice Center that are difficult to meet because of cutbacks. The collective bargaining agreement also plays a part in overtime assignments. Balloni says, "We know it has been going on for years and it has to be fixed through systems change and then rules change. Not by unilaterally saying we will pass a motion that limits it. I'm not a labor attorney but if I was one, I would take that case because I believe the county would lose."

The collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of this year, and the county says lowering costs will be its main priority in re-negotiations.