Dallas Employees Received $90M Extra and Overtime Pay in 2015

Last year, 8,214 Dallas city employees billed 1,408,685 hours of cumulative overtime according to official city records received through the Texas Public Information Act. The records also show that taxpayers paid these employees a little over $90 million dollars extra pay in 2015--about $52 million of which was overtime pay according to the city's Public Information Officer.

According to city Public Information Officer Emily Black, the rest was reported to be "education, shift, interim assignment, etc." also called "special pay." We have been unable to determine how this is is administered, or get data showing this broken down.

In our deep dive of the data we found that:

  • 8,214 city employees logged overtime in FY 2015
  • 3,683 employees logged more than 100 hours of overtime
  • 741 employees logged more than 500 hours of overtime
  • 80 of them logged more than 1,000 hours of overtime

The highest number of overtime hours in 2015 was claimed by Carlos Sierra, a 911 call taker who logged 2,588 overtime hours. This overtime increased Sierra's annual pay from $43,557 to $127,410.

The largest pay increase in 2015 was received by Dallas Police Officer Brian K. Verdine, believed to be a traffic enforcement officer. Verdine logged 1,809 overtime hours in 2015, and increased his pay from a base salary of $72,717 to $204,094. We have requested, but not received, more information as to exactly what Verdine did to earn over $130,000 in extra pay.

The City of Dallas public information office has been slow to answer questions. Calls left for City Auditor Craig Kinton have not been returned.

To illustrate the magnitude of the problem, the question could be posed: how many extra Dallas Police officers could be retained if the city better managed its payroll?

According to the data, the City of Dallas actually paid regular Dallas "Police Officers" an average of $69,126.48 in 2015 (as reported to the IRS for tax purposes--not including benefits).

Police Corporals averaged $84,153.90.

If the allocated cost of benefits is assumed to be 25% (a liberal amount if based on gross pay), regular Dallas Police officers on average should cost the city approximately $86,410.

How To Improve Dallas For All Of Us

Ninety million dollars ($90,000,000) excess/overtime pay, rising property taxes, management issues that have led our $400,000-a-year city manager to resign (after he gets his Christmas bonus). How massive are the problems and can taxpayers save ourselves?

There are, in fact, 3 things we can do ourselves that will have a major impact on the quality of our city management and future?

There is already plenty of tax money to run this town--perhaps to run a town 30% larger than Dallas. So what's the problem?

Like a bad mood emoticon on a bad dating website: "it's complicated."

Dallas' problems, simply put, stem from mismanagement at many levels. Dallas' administration has grown up in the “culture of Dallas" and not all of that culture is positive.

There is an over-reliance on legacy mid-level management that receives very little oversight and too much "let's bury this before it turns into a scandal" as opposed to managers asking: "how can we improve this?"

Compounding this is a city council that many times focuses on fringe issues versus the common things that affect taxpayers.

The council has seen its share of elected representatives who are nice people, but can't add. It has also seen its share of "experts" (jokingly known as "former drips under pressure”) who inject themselves into situations they know nothing about--but meddle anyway. If you're not saying: "but isn't that what you're doing right now" I'll be extremely disappointed!

At the risk of sounding too much like an MBA: It all adds up to a management infrastructure that is doomed to be (1) expensive and (2) wasteful.

So what do we (taxpayers) do about it?

That is really a complicated question and (at the risk of sounding like an MBA again) let’s dole out a ridiculously exasperating answer: “it depends!”