The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office continues to spend big money on overtime, reports the city’s Inquirer. Last year, overtime accounted for 23 percent of the agency’s payroll. By contrast, the Police Department devoted 9 percent of its payroll to overtime, and the Fire Department 11 percent. The total at prisons – the city’s most understaffed department – was 19 percent for last fiscal year. In all last year, 19 sheriff’s employees, whose base salaries ranged from $47,000 to $64,000, received more than $30,000 each in overtime. The high overtime costs have hampered the city’s efforts to make overtime reduction a budget priority as the recession has slashed city revenues.
The growing costs also reflect longtime concerns about the extent and quality of financial oversight in the Sheriff’s Office, an agency some believe should be eliminated. Led for 23 years by John D. Green, an elected official, the Sheriff’s Office is one of three offices that operate independently of the mayor’s purview. The office, which had 230 employees last year, is responsible for transporting prisoners to and from court, providing courtroom security, serving legal papers, enforcing evictions, and handling sheriff’s sales. Sheriff’s officials attributed the high overtime costs to several factors, including steady growth in the prison population, which means more inmates for deputies to transport and monitor.