Hundreds of Baltimore City employees over the past three years have earned overtime pay equal to more than half their annual salary, even as the cash-starved city has reduced overtime payments by nearly a third, an analysis by The Baltimore Sun shows. Among the highest overtime earners are 36 police officers and one firefighter who took home more than the mayor during at least one of the past three years for which data was available. One officer earned $173,791; another made $153,160. The mayor's salary has risen from $125,000 to $151,700 the last three years.The city's list of high overtime earners also includes a pair of library security guards who made $29,334 and $24,322 in overtime, and a data entry clerk who made $27,083 in overtime. The salaries and staffing levels of Baltimore's 15,000-employee municipal government have received intense scrutiny, as city officials look to plug a $121 million gap to balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins Thursday. The city mostly avoided job cuts, terminating 31 employee and contract positions, but the threat of mass layoffs has hung over tense negotiations that reached a climax this month. City officials note that the city's overtime pot has shrunk from $63.2 million in 2007 to $43.4 million in fiscal 2009. Many departments have put new controls on overtime as budgets tighten, they add. "Every manager of every division and every section in the city ... knows overtime is something we try to review on a regular basis," said Deputy Mayor Christopher Thomaskutty. He called the perpetual pool of high earners "not great" but added: "It is a lot better than where we were."
Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun
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