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Community Viewpoint: Overtime Expenditures Out of Taxpayers’ Pockets

Lack of transparency is always a concern in public departments, especially when it can be so tempting for public employees to abuse the system to spike their pensions. One common way public employees increase their pensions is by maximizing overtime.

The money spent on overtime expenditures is not “free money”, it comes from somewhere (or rather someone). Any guesses to who that someone is? —-It’s you, the taxpayer.

Taxes fund overtime expenditures, and when public departments go over budget, taxes will likely increase to make up the difference. This type of budget over expenditures has been continuing for several fiscal years now. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has uncovered data that seems “expensive” for the taxpayers in Hawaii.

The Maui County Police Commission budgeted $4.3 million for overtime in 2012. By the end of fiscal year 2012, the end budget for overtime resulted in $4.5 million.

The following fiscal year initially $3.5 million was budgeted for overtime . By the end of fiscal year 2013 the overtime expenditures resulted in $4.6 million. Not just $1.1 million more than originally budgeted but $100,000 more than previous fiscal year.

Most recently, the Maui County Police Commission stated that the initial budget for overtime for fiscal year 2014 was $3.9 million, however by the end of the fiscal year the overtime expenditures resulted in $5 million. Again $1.1 million more than their initial budget, but this time costing $400,000 more than the previous fiscal year 2012.

According to Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., president of the Grassroot Institute, “Overtime is a necessary option to serve the public good, and most government employees do not abuse it. Unfortunately, since overtime is still calculated into a public employee’s pension level, there is often an incentive to ‘game the system.’ This practice needs to be monitored and reformed.”

Dr. Akina continues, “Our new transparency website, OpenHawaii.org, is now available as a tool to help Maui’s citizens hold their public departments accountable.”

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii recently uncovered data showing that much of this overtime is driven by the Wailuku Patrol, who are setting records for overtime. OpenHawaii.org shows that the top 8 public employees with the highest overtime for fiscal year 2014 were all in the Wailuku Patrol.

The top overtime payment resulted in $75,133.99 for a Wailuku Patrol Sergeant. Followed by $58,292.82 and $49,159.60 earned by two Wailuku Patrol Officers. For the fiscal year 2012, a Police Officer II from Wailuku Patrol received $61,006.38, a Police Sergeant received $60,010.92 and finally another Police Officer II received $49,745.06 in overtime. Similar results were seen in fiscal year 2013 with the highest overtime of that year was $72,350.26 received by a Police Officer II of Wailuku Patrol.

Wailuku Patrol paid estimated overtime of $1.89 million in 2014, almost four times as much as the next comparable department. Not only are Wailuku Patrol receiving extensive overtime but they also make some of the highest total salaries in Maui County, sometimes totaling more than $170,000 per year.

Taxpayers have paid long enough for over budget expenditures and it’s time to stop. The citizens of Maui need to hold public departments accountable for abusing and mistreating money that they have earned through hard work. Why let public departments take your money and use it for their own benefit instead of the public good?

Although police overtime may be needed in some cases, receiving $75,133.99 for overtime is not only unnecessary but abusive to the taxpayers’ pockets, who pay even more when this is used to spike a public pension. As said before, money is not free, someone has to pay it. Question is— have you, the taxpayer, had enough?

Joselyn Olinares

Joselyn Olinares is currently attending Hawaii Pacific University, pursuing a bachelor degree in Business Economics. As a research intern at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, she is currently working on government transparency.

The MAUIWatch Community Network invites readers to express their views in the Community Viewpoint. Community Viewpoint columns should be on or around 800 words. Community Viewpoint submissions are subject to editing. All submissions must include the writer’s full name, which will be printed. We do not print letters announcing events to come, extensive quotations from other material, open letters or form letters. Send to contact (at) mauiwatch (dot) com

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