State workers' overtime up $50M in 2012; Bedford Hills worker tops list of earners

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, March 14,

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, March 14, 2012. (Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan )

ALBANY -- As Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration tries to rein in costs, one element of state spending has grown dramatically in the past year: overtime pay.

Topping the list of state workers raking in the overtime: a nurse at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Mercy Mathew. She is paid an annual salary of $58,468 but hauled in an additional $150,630 by working 2,517 overtime hours, according to state records.

Officials at the correctional facility refused to comment for the story on Thursday. Attempts to reach Mathew were unsuccessful.


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Overtime paid to state employees jumped $50 million to $520 million in 2012 -- increasing 11 percent -- according to state records obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Dozens of employees raked in more in overtime pay than they earned in base salary. Five earned more than $100,000 in overtime alone in 2012. An additional 15 were paid $80,000 or more. All told, the state paid $520 million in overtime in 2012.

"State agency overtime jumped more than $50 million last year, reversing a downward trend," Comptroller Thomas P. 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."

A Cuomo spokesman said some of the spike was because of superstorm Sandy.

"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," Cuomo spokesman Richard 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."

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