Las Vegas Sun

August 19, 2019

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Court tackles overtime pay

Local governments can reform overtime policies, as proved by county court system

Overtime pay for local government employees in Clark County became an issue early last year after Las Vegas Sun reporters Jeff German and Mike Trask disclosed that nearly 3,000 of them were pulling down more than $100,000 a year.

The February stories about the millions of dollars being paid in overtime mostly to firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and emergency medical responders raised a lot of questions, including:

Are all the extra hours causing employee fatigue and reducing their effectiveness? Would hiring more employees be less expensive than overtime, which costs at least 50 percent and often 100 percent more than regular time?

One emergency medical services supervisor was found to have earned $232,791 in 2006 after logging 2,400 hours of overtime. Other instances were cited, including a Metro Police corrections officer earning more than the sheriff.

Covered in the reporters’ overtime survey were Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Metro Police. Altogether, overtime payouts to employees of those entities have totaled $375 million since 2001.

Only the Clark County court system has reported tangible results in cracking down on overtime since the Sun’s stories appeared. German reported Monday that overtime pay there is on track to be reduced by more than $600,000.

The $1.1 million overtime budget for Justice Court is projected to see a reduction of $236,000. And the $1.5 million overtime budget for court employees who work in the county clerk’s office is targeted for a $400,000 reduction.

Court Executive Officer Chuck Short, who oversees 800 employees and budgets totaling more than $70 million, said his management team took action after the Sun’s stories. As a result, seven new positions in Justice Court have been filled and strict new procedures for approving overtime have been put into place.

We hope the other agencies surveyed by German and Trask also take measures to reduce their overtime budgets. Some overtime will always be necessary, but the extremes still being seen in Clark County are absurd.

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