CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago's overtime costs are out of control, according to a budget watchdog who says, last year, the city had 1,000 employees who made more than $40,000 in overtime.
CBS 2’s political reporter Derrick Blakley follows the money.
"Under Rahm Emanuel’s leadership as mayor, there’s been an abuse of taxpayer resources and mismanagement of city resources," said Adam Andrzejewski, who’s with Open The Books, a salary, pension and spending databases.
Andrzejewski, a former GOP candidate for governor, probed public records to find that the city shelled out more than $282 million in overtime last year.
"The overtime and public pay systems in the city are quite evidently broken," he said.
Look at the scandal-plagued water department, for example, where top executives were fired for exchanging racist emails. A deputy engineer pulled down $213,977, including $102,480 in overtime.
"We found plumbers making up to $160,000, auto pound supervisors making up to $145,000, painters — you can be a painter in the city of Chicago and make up to $135,000 a year," according to Andrzejewski.
And the fire department is more of the same.
"We found that nine deputy and district fire chiefs out-earn the fire commissioner, Jose Santiago. He makes $202,000. And these deputy chiefs — they make up to $246,000 because of the massive six-figure overtime payments," Andrzejewski said.
Chicago Police alone poured out $143 million in overtime.
And Andrzejewski said he doesn’t buy the city’s longtime explanation that it is cheaper to pay overtime than expand the force.
"When the city pays out $143 million of overtime to the police department, that’s the equivalent of hiring 1,030 full-time police officers."
Of course, hiring 1,000 new cops is exactly what Mayor Emanuel is in the process of doing right now.
In response, city hall says overtime for both the water department and the fire department was driven by vacancies. Water department positions are now being filled. But hiring for the fire department is slower, due to Justice Department oversight, ensuring diversity goals are being met.