Monday, May 01, 2000

Ohio's overtime bill rising

Prisons account for third of $65M

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — The state paid $65.7 million in overtime to state employees last year with almost a third of that going to prison workers, a newspaper reported Sunday.

        A computer analysis of payroll records by the Columbus Dispatch showed that Ohio shelled out an average of $2,168 apiece to the 30,300 employees who earned overtime. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction workers' overtime earnings totaled $20.8 million.

        Bart Martelli, a nurse at the Orient Correctional Institution's Frazier Health Care Center, earned $61,854 last year in overtime, more than anyone else in state government. The 1,808 extra hours more than doubled his base salary of $52,463.

Nature of the work
        Prisons spokesman Joe Andrews said the 24-hour nature of prison work helps explain the department's overtime.

        “We're the largest institutional agency,” Mr. Andrews said. “In most cases, we can't let a position go unfilled. When someone is sick, on leave or vacation, we have to pay overtime.”

        Mr. Martelli's overtime payments hiked his salary to $114,317, but he still wasn't among the state's highest-paid state employees.

        With $208,539, Jeko M. Nedelkoff, a psychiatrist at the Oakwood Correctional Facility in Lima, was the state's top-paid employee last year.

        In fact, all but three of the 20 highest-paid employees were physicians or psychiatrists employed under special contracts by three departments — Rehabilitation and Correction, Mental Health and Mental Retardation, and Developmental Disabilities.

Time and a half
        The 1999 state payroll totaled $2.3 billion for it's 65,536 employees, the records showed.

        Overall, 204 employees earned $100,000 or more. That's nearly twice as many as those who made that much three years earlier.

        Some workers, however, are not eligible for overtime. They include employees in the governor's office and other unclassified workers. Overtime normally is paid at 1.5 times a worker's base hourly wage.

        The Dispatch analysis found that state Highway Patrol employees earned an average of $2,610 apiece in overtime last year, a higher average than that of prison workers and that of all state employees.

        The patrol accounted for about $6.4 million of the $7 million in overtime paid to the Department of Public Safety.

        The patrol's manpower level — about 1,400 — remains the same as that of 25 years ago, patrol spokesman Sgt. Gary Lewis said.

        “I'd much rather have 50 troopers than pay overtime,” said Col. Ken Marshall, patrol superintendent. “If we were at full strength, I'm sure our overtime would be somewhat less.”


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