Eight Riverside County departments with reported excess overtime of $1 million each, were selected for a monitoring report that was reviewed by the County Supervisors on Tuesday, August 27. The same day the audit was released, Riverside County announced they received two top awards in budget and procurement practices.
The county was honored with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Adopted Budget. Evaluated by the Government Finance Officers Association, the county’s budget documents received either a proficient or outstanding evaluation in 25 key areas – including policy, financial planning, operations guidance and communications.
California Globe asked the county if the overtime expenses were proof they were fiscally responsible.
Public Information Officer for the County, Brooke Federico said, “Overtime, when properly managed, is often more cost-effective than hiring additional employees due to the cost of pension and health benefits. In addition, last fiscal year, county departments responded to approximately 14 emergency events, including fires and floods, which resulted in the urgent use of overtime.”
The second award to the county was Achievement of Excellence in Procurement for demonstrating innovation, productivity and leadership in purchasing practices. The County of Riverside was one of 42 counties nationwide to receive the award by the National Procurement Institute.
The Audit Controllers report is to ensure transparency in how money is spent in various departments and to help maintain fiscal responsibility.
The departments spending the most on overtime in 2018-19 were the Probation Department, District Attorney’s Office, Fire Department, and Sheriff’s Department.
The Sheriff’s Department had a total overtime expense that reached $61.43 million, a 43 percent jump from the previous year.
According to reports, the Sheriff’s Department was able to reimburse much of the overtime spent through grants, and contracts from cities with the department.
Officials from the Sheriff’s Department told the County Board of Supervisors that they need to increase their staffing levels to reduce overtime.
The District Attorneys Office accrued $1.95 million in overtime according to the report, but the DA’s Office said 60 percent of that was also reimbursed by funding outside of the county.
According to the Audit Controllers office, “The use of overtime labor, reasonable and necessary expenditures enables the county to continue to provide services despite labor shortages due to vacancies, leaves, changed mandated service levels, and operational and seasonal workload spikes.”
The auditors also want to ensure that unnecessary overtime is avoided. The auditors want to prevent fraudulent overtime when employees pad their time sheets with overtime hours not worked.
Federico said, “The county welcomes this audit opportunity each year to review overtime practices. County departments proactively manage overtime based on mission critical needs, particularly in departments that run 24 hour operations. We regularly work with them to ensure that overtime is properly managed. Each department reviewed by the Auditor’s Office provided detailed response, published in the report, regarding the circumstances leading to the overtime.”
The Audit Report is available HERE.