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How Riverside plans to cut overtime after worker’s OT tripled his salary

By in Press Enterprise on November 4, 2017

By Ryan Hagen

This will be the last year Riverside sees embarrassingly high overtime payments such as those paid to the Riverside Public Utilities worker who earned more than twice his six-figure salary in overtime, city officials say.

Those officials have worked to hire more staff and taken other steps to reverse the issues that led to high overtime since May. Once those changes are made, it could take until January for timecards to show “normal” overtime.

In May, the government watchdog group Transparent California reported that utilities dispatcher Donald Dahle was the city of Riverside’s highest-paid employee in 2016 by taking home more than $257,000 in overtime pay — the 10th largest overtime payout in California in 2016.

The immediate reason for the problem was that retirements and difficulties in hiring had left three vacant positions in the electric division for utilities dispatchers, Riverside Public Utilities General Manager Girish Balachandran said at the time.

On Sept. 22, those three positions were filled.

“The problem is now addressed, and for 2018 our overtime will be back to normal,” Balachandran said Thursday, Nov. 2.

While it was Dahle’s overtime that raised red flags, city officials say the issue extends much further. So does their solution.

Citywide changes

Shortly after the dispatcher’s high overtime was made public, city officials commissioned an independent audit of the utility. They also began a separate review of every department’s overtime that looked at overtime spending and controls.

That’s now complete, said Assistant City Manager Marianna Marysheva, who added that each department answered three questions about overtime.

“One is, do they have an overtime issue?” Marysheva said. “Two, is it an indication of another problem, such as under-staffing? Three, how are they going to solve it?”

That report will go to the Riverside City Council, along with the utility audit, in January.

Already, city officials are starting to make […]    

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