The article on the city’s highest paid employees tells of a police officer who worked enough overtime to make just under $400,000 in salary and benefits last year because of 1,153 overtime hours worked. His base pay of $135,000 was supplemented by an additional $181,000 for overtime. Not including any benefits, the average hourly rate of pay for the 1,153 overtime hours would seem to be about $157 per hour.

I don’t find any fault with the employee for making as much money as the system allows, but I’d guess that most taxpayers would believe that the compensation system that permits this is badly conceived and administered. That goes double for the city and the Police Department who must think that paying a police dispatcher $400,000 in a year is an efficient use of tax dollars. The city’s finance director says there’s no overtime cap which might restrict the city from responding to emergency situations. I don’t think anyone believes overtime pay in emergency situations for police officers is unwarranted.

The Santa Barbara city administration and the Police Department do their jobs well, but it takes an example like this one to remind us that government agencies don’t run like businesses. They can’t run like businesses, but that shouldn’t exempt them from common sense.


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