By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY Overtime costs at state agencies jumped 16 percent in the first nine months of the year and is on pace to hit a record $600 million in 2013, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Tuesday.
State agencies spent more than $462 million on overtime from January through September, an increase of $65 million from the same period in 2012, the comptroller said.
"Overtime costs continue to rise. If the trend continues, the state could spend over $600 million by the end of the calendar year, which is a substantial jump from last year," DiNapoli said in a statement. "Reliance on overtime is becoming an expensive habit. I continue to urge state agencies to improve their personnel management, reduce overtime costs and carefully monitor its use."
The state has cut staff and limited hiring in recent years amid budget troubles. Unions have said that the overtime increases are a result of fewer employees.
In agencies controlled by the governor, the number of positions declined by 18,802, or 14 percent, since 2008 - from 137,680 to 118,878.
Gannett's Albany Bureau reported in January that overtime among state agencies grew 11 percent in 2012 compared with 2011, and five state employees earned more than $100,000 each in overtime in 2012.
Four agencies had the largest dollar increases in overtime costs, accounting for 70 percent of the state's overtime spending.
The Department of Corrections had the largest increase of $20.5 million, up 20 percent. That was followed by a $14 million increase, or 63 percent rise, at the state Department of Transportation.
The Office of Information Technology Services had the largest percentage increase in overtime, up 517 percent from 2012, followed by the Department of Taxation and Finance, which was up 437 percent.
The tax department, in particular, has had to use overtime to deal with troubles processing tax returns earlier this year. The cost is expected to be recouped through the private vendor used to handle the returns.
Overtime is typically paid at a rate of 1 ½ times regular pay. DiNapoli warned that overtime pay may also inflate pension payouts.
There was no immediate comment from the Cuomo administration on the increase in overtime costs.