Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pa Overtime

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pa Overtime

Article excerpt

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE used to get exercised over state employees earning more than he did. Remember the kerfuffle over school superintendents making more than $175,000 annually or the invectives hurled at former Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission Director Bryan Christiansen, who earned more than $300,000 a year? But when it comes to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Christie has been less inclined to pick a fight over salary excesses.

As reported Friday by Staff Writer Abbott Koloff, 131 Port Authority employees had worked so much overtime by September of this year that they already have more than doubled their salaries. And 13 Port Authority police officers have received during that same period of time total compensation - salary, overtime and other pay -- that exceeds the annual salary of Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye. He earns $289,000.

There have been no claims of wrongdoing with regard to the overtime payments. And those who are receiving the overtime - mainly cops - do not fit into one category. For example, they are not all older officers near retirement, trying to push up pension payments. As Koloff reported, half of the top 10 earners have less than 14 years of service.

Agency officials cite federal mandates for some of the excessive costs: More than 200 officers were transferred to stand-alone firefighting duty at airports because of a federal mandate. But that does not account for everything by a long shot.

Last year, the Port Authority's top earner was a police officer with a base pay of $90,000 who made an additional $214,643 in overtime and other pay. His total compensation came to $330,856.

Something must change. The Port Authority has to rein in these costs. Officers cannot be forced to work excessive hours; public safety cannot be compromised. The spiraling overtime is as much an indication of poor administrative planning as it is a needed response to security challenges. …

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