Riverside County agencies spent an aggregate 24 percent more on overtime in the first six months of the current fiscal year than they did during the same period in 2017-18 — a potential red flag for administrators, according to an Auditor-Controller’s Office report submitted Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

“Appropriate overtime is a cost-effective response to short-term labor shortages or spikes in service demands,” Auditor-Controller Paul Angulo wrote in the seven-page report. “However, long-term overtime or uncontrolled uses of overtime represent significant risks of increased direct and indirect costs.”

The audit showed a total $44.98 million was spent on OT between July 1 and Dec. 31, compared to $36.15 million during the same period in 2017, a nearly $9 million jump.

The biggest OT offenders, in dollar terms, were the sheriff’s department at $25.1 million; the Riverside University Health System, at $10.13 million; and the Department of Public Social Services, at $2.33 million.

However, all of those agencies were still well within their allocated overtime budgets for the fiscal year.

Agencies operating in excess of their allocated overtime streams included the Office of the Registrar of Voters, at $673,846, about 56 percent over budget; the Office of the District Attorney, at $595,472, about 70 percent over budget; and the Emergency Management Department, at $275,472, about 44 percent over budget, according to figures.

The registrar’s office racked up higher costs stemming from the Nov. 6 general election, while the EMD has reported repeated activations of personnel because of winter storms and the threat of mud and debris flows into neighborhoods at the foot of the Cleveland National Forest, where an August wildfire destroyed vegetation.

The Board of Supervisors did not comment on the audit.

“Unnecessary overtime may be avoided through management control activities, such as pre-approval of overtime, adjusting staffing levels, regular management of overtime, and informing and communicating management’s objectives regarding cost containment and service delivery to all employees,” Angulo said.

Another overtime report covering the entire fiscal year is expected in the summer.

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