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Richmond Auditor Recommends Cap For City Employees After Finding Excessive Overtime

Richmond’s City Auditor is recommending a cap on the number of overtime hours city employees can rack up.

That guidance comes after an audit released in January documented excessive overtime hours in a number of city departments. The audit found that 57 City of Richmond employees had accrued more than 700 overtime hours each in 2017. One employee in the Department of Public Works had more than 1,800 overtime hours.

At a Richmond City Council committee meeting Thursday, Auditor Lou Lassiter said limiting overtime would address a real health and safety concern.

“There’s a certain amount of hours that if you go beyond that on a continual basis, [a cap] may promote better safety for employees of the organization as well as accountability,” he said.

Lassiter also recommended City Council survey developers about improving the slow building permit process.

His presentation wasn’t all bad news, however. A follow up on previously conducted audits showed that city departments had been implementing recommendations at the highest rate since 2011. The city had implemented 55 percent of audit recommendations in 2018 compared to 25 percent the year before, according to Lassiter. Those recommendations included things like formalizing safety inspection procedures, verifying background checks for temporary employees and re-inspecting pothole repairs.

Following Thursday’s meeting, first District Council Member Andreas Addison said Richmond City Council staff will likely draft an overtime cap ordinance soon. In the meantime, he said he wants to continue to collaborate with city officials to address the underlying causes for the excessive overtime. 

“Anybody being able to clock in that many hours of overtime is unsafe and unhealthy,” Addison said. “I don’t want to assume that it’s fraud and abuse, but we need to make sure we have in place the checks and balances and a capped max.”

You can see  Lassiter's presentation here.

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