New York state agencies racked up more than $316 million in overtime in the first six months of 2014, according to the state comptroller's office, continuing a recent trend of sharply higher overtime costs for taxpayers.
If the pace continues, New York will spend nearly two-thirds of a billion dollars on overtime this year, according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. That would be $30 million more than in 2013. Overtime costs were $529 million in 2012 and $469 million in 2011.
"This troubling trend could again result in a record-breaking year of overtime hours and overtime pay," DiNapoli said in a statement accompanying his report. "Our state agencies need to examine their practices, get to the root of what is driving high overtime and better manage these costs."
While overtime costs are up for the state, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York state's overall personnel costs are down from past years and that state agencies are still within their budgeted overtime.
Cuomo's office said changes designed to make government more efficient have reduced overall personnel costs — including salaries and overtime — by $588 million per year compared to the year before Cuomo took office.
"Overtime is used carefully and only when needed," said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the Democratic governor. "The alternative would be a larger, more expensive, state bureaucracy that New York taxpayers can no longer afford."
Overall, state agencies worked more than 7.8 million hours of overtime in the first six months of 2014. The Office for People with Disabilities worked the most overtime, with more than 2 million hours. The state's Department of Corrections had the biggest overtime costs at $79.8 million for more than 1.5 million hours.