Hudson Valley had 5 of state's top 10 overtime earners
Five of New York State government's top 10 overtime earners work in the Hudson Valley, including two nurses at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility who together racked up more than 4,000 hours, state records show.
Topping the list is Mercy Mathew, a nurse at the Westchester County women's prison, who made nearly three times more in overtime than her $58,468 annual salary, state records show.
Mathew raked in $150,630 working 2,517 overtime hours in 2012, which comes out to an extra 48 hours of work per week assuming she worked 52 weeks.
Coming in at No. 10 was Lystra Forbes-Cooper, another Bedford Hills nurse. Forbes-Cooper made $94,814 in overtime, working an extra 1,648 hours.
Mathew and Forbes-Cooper could not be reached for comment. State Department of Correction officials declined to comment.
Also cracking the top 10 were two patient aides who work at the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton.
Aide Robert B. Henry ranked No. 2, earning $127,120 in overtime on top of his $68,312 salary. And aide Michael Marlow made $97,149 in overtime in addition to his $65,598 salary.
Together, they worked than 4,500 hours in overtime. Neither Henry nor Marlow could be reached for comment. Officials with the state's Office of Mental Health also declined to comment.
Rounding out the list of the Hudson Valley's top earners was Terrance Davis, a nurse at Fishkill Correctional Facility, who made $95,129 working 1,756 in overtime hours. Davis' annual salary is $58,468.
Davis declined to discuss his overtime pay in detail until he conferred with a union representative. "I have to be careful," Davis said.
Overtime pay to state employees jumped to $520 million in 2012, an 11 percent increase from the $470 million paid out in 2011, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Dozens of employees took in more overtime pay than they earned in salary, with five hauling in more than $100,000 in overtime alone. Fifteen made more than $80,000 in overtime.
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the state needs to do a better job of reining in escalating overtime costs.
"State agency overtime jumped more than $50 million last year, reversing a downward trend," DiNapoli said. "While often necessary, overtime is an expensive way to operate. Agencies need to do a better job of monitoring their overtime and reduce it whenever possible."
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, attributed a portion of the spike to the extra hours state health care and correctional workers were forced to work after superstorm Sandy hit Oct. 29.
"The alternative would lead to a larger, more costly and inefficient state government -- the exact opposite of what this administration has worked toward during the past two years," Azzopardi said in an email.
"The fact is that the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was also met by a strong response by all segments of the state workforce -- especially at these three agencies," he added. "Their work was critical at New York's time of need, and overtime cost incurred during this time period will be reimbursed by the federal government."