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Overtime boosts some town salaries

Labor costs make up the bulk of the town operating budget. Many town employees earn even more than their base salaries because they work extra hours at overtime rates.

Overtime is accrued by police officers, dispatchers, and highway workers, subject to specific terms spelled out in their union contracts.

Police officers and dispatchers work in departments that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers earn “regular” overtime when they exceed their regular hours, work on holidays, or fill in for other officers who are out.

Officers also earn “special duty” overtime by working on outside projects such as private party detail or road work for utility companies. The town is reimbursed for special duty overtime by the outside hiring authority.

Dispatchers in the 9-1-1 Communications Center work overtime shifts to cover holidays and employee absences, and may be called in during storms or other emergencies when there is a high demand for service.

Highway workers primarily earn overtime when they are called in to clear downed trees during storms or to plow roads. Some also get paid extra to work on Household Hazardous Waste Day.

Overtime can significantly increase an employee’s earnings. With an annual salary of $129,459, the town administrator would appear to be the town’s top earner in 2012, as shown in the related story on page one.

However, when overtime is taken into account, a police officer was tops in 2012, with $171,302 in gross earnings.

The chart below shows the breakdown of overtime for police officers, dispatchers, and highway workers in the 2012 calendar year.

The “salary” number listed in the first column is the employee’s base salary and includes other financial considerations such as step increases and longevity. The “salary” number covers the 2012 calendar year, so it is different from the salary listed in the story on page one, which covers the 2012-13 fiscal year.

overtime_chart

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