Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007 | 1:15 a.m.
Over the past six years, area local governments have spent $375 million just to cover the overtime worked by their employees.
Even though this is an almost inconceivable amount to pay for work above and beyond regular hours, there is little being done about it, especially in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.
In a Las Vegas Sun story Friday by reporters Jeff German and Mike Trask, it was reported that overtime pay since 2001 in North Las Vegas has increased by 286 percent. The increase during that time for Las Vegas was an eye-popping 523 percent.
Is anyone watching the store? Apparently not, as local governments overall increased their overtime payments 15 percent from fiscal-year 2006 to the recently ended fiscal-year 2007. Henderson was the only local government achieving a decrease, from $8.9 million to $8.7 million.
Where is this going to end? Local taxpayers paid $91.5 million in overtime payments in fiscal 2007. Are they soon going to be paying $100 million and up every year? Unless the trend can be reversed, the answer is yes.
We understand that our growing population is placing additional demands on government services, particularly fire and police protection and social work. But we agree with a public policy professor at Pepperdine University, interviewed for the story, who said, "My sense is Las Vegas probably has some managerial challenges that it needs to look at."
We believe local governments paying that much in overtime should instead, in many cases, be hiring more people. This would increase the amount of staff being paid straight time and reduce the amount receiving overtime.
This would be beneficial from another standpoint, as well. Do we really want police officers responding to robberies, domestic disputes and other serious incidents to be tired? The same can be asked of corrections officers at the Clark County Detention Center, social workers responding to a family emergency and firefighters at the scene of a burning building.
For reasons of financial responsibility and public safety, local governments need to vastly cut down on overtime.