Off Track: Overtime Pay Costing MTA Millions

Many employees have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay.

By Grace West
|  Tuesday, May 4, 2010  |  Updated 6:31 PM EDT
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Off Track: Overtime Pay Costing MTA Millions

Many MTA employees have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay.

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Overtime for MTA employees has again come under scrutiny, as many transit workers’ total pay more than double their base salaries in 2009.

The cash-strapped MTA has paid millions in overtime to employees ranging from agency presidents to train mechanics, according to the New York Post.

Data from SeeThroughNY, a watchdog group of the Empire Center for New York State Policy that provides public employee payrolls, shows records of several employees who earned anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 more than their base pay.

Among those benefiting the most from overtime pay were Long Island Rail Road employees, who made up more than half of the top 100 earners in 2009.

Supervisor Monica Hunter earned the most in overtime pay of the LIRR workers, making $155,000 on top of a $79,000 salary, the Post reports.

Many say that the work rules, some even more than 100 years old, are at fault. One rule allows crew members to contractually be given another full day’s pay when they are switched from one train to the next.

The MTA inspector general is conducting a probe into the LIRR's overtime rules.

“Our focus is on continuing to attack our cost structure to find reductions across our agencies including reducing overtime across the MTA. We expect to announce initiatives to drive down these costs soon," said the MTA in a statement to the Post.

The third-most paid MTA employee last year was Bronx resident St. Dennis Lombardi who made $147,244 on top of his $76,384 salary.

But MTA Bus senior accounting analyst Michael Castro had the highest overtime compensation, taking home $156,252 more than his $72,100 salary. The MTA, however, argues this number, claiming that his W-2 forms show him making $77,490.

"Some of these numbers are tremendous," Bill Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee told the Post. "The problem comes when you've got these people really racking it up."

The Port Authority is also experiencing a similar problem, with a little more than a third of its employees making more than $100,000, and the payroll jumping more than $15 million from 2008 to 2009, according to the New York Daily News.

The MTA’s payroll, however, rose by $70 million in 2009.

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