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.
If the $90 million dollar figure is divided by $86,410, data suggests the city could afford to retain over 1,000 more seasoned police officers at current average gross pay. By just better managing they city's overtime alone (acknowledged by the city to be $52 million), the city could conceivably afford over 600 more police officers at the $69,126.48 rate of pay.
All of this may point to management issues within the city's Human Resources and City Manager's office. It may also reflect a disconnect between the city's senior management and mid-level management.
Full Disclosure About the Data and Methodology
The City of Dallas furnished us with several database export files in response to a request made under the Texas Public Information Act. The data included gross pay history (the figure the city reported to the IRS) as well as overtime charge data specific to individual employees:
- The number of overtime hours claimed by each employee of the City of Dallas
- The expected annual salary (what they were supposed to have been paid) for each employee
- The gross wages (what they were actually paid) received by each employee from 2012 through 2015
Based on the last two numbers (annual salary and gross wages received), we calculated "extra pay" with the formula: [What they were paid] - [What they were supposed to have been paid].
What we were not able to clearly determine is the type of compensation, other than overtime, received by the employee and factored into his or her annual gross wages.
There were also other things we were unable to readily determine. For instance, we have "location codes" for employees--what we believe to be the employee's division or work location.
However, as we said before, when the open records folks figured out what we were up to, they stopped communicating with us! Hopefully we'll be able to fill in some of the gaps in the data later.
So based on the data furnished to us by the City of Dallas we feel fairly confident that our calculations are correct and our conclusions are accurate.
[Footnote: We furnished links and gave the City of Dallas a week to access this story, and the databases, prior to publication.]