Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on overtime pay in 2010, Miami University officials say the amount of overtime is not due to staff cuts made in 2008.
Miami’s physical facilities department (PFD) tends to earn the most overtime of all university departments each year. The amount of overtime pay for campus facilities operations was up 13 percent from 2008 to 2009. At $849,415, the overtime pay for the PFD in 2010 decreased significantly, down nearly 19 percent from $1,046,806 in 2009, according to numbers from Human Resources.
“These numbers are heavily influenced by events outside the control of the staff in these operations,” David Creamer, vice president of finance and business. “They don’t control things like the weather or special events like the Dalai Lama visit.”
The PFD overtime is not all covered by the PFD budget, but from the billing for services provided to other departments like the residence halls or for special events, Creamer said. The PFD monitors its budget throughout the year, so if the PFD is over-budget after a job at a residence hall, for example, the department will bill the residence hall the rest of the cost, according to Creamer. While the PFD overtime budget for the 2010 fiscal year was $213,190, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the PFD was over budget, because overtime pay comes from a variety of sources.
“In the time I’ve been [at Miami], they’ve always been under budget,” Creamer said.
Additionally, some campus utilities require attention around the clock, Cody Powell, assistant vice president of operations, said. For example, the campus’s steam plant, chilled water plant and high voltage electrical distribution system are required by the state of Ohio to be staffed continuously, Powell said. When university employees have to work to maintain these operations during the holidays, they receive premium pay, which is higher than an employee’s hourly wage. Premium pay is included in yearly overtime dollars, but employees who earn premium pay aren’t working more than 40 hours per week, according to Creamer.
The unpredictability of the weather also plays a big role in the amount of overtime each year, Creamer and Powell both acknowledged.
“The last two winters have been especially challenging,” Creamer said.
“The campus has an expectation for the sidewalks, roads and building entries to be safe and passable during snowfall,” Powell said. “We have no control over the weather, so we do see significant fluctuation in our overtime expenses as a result of these weather related events.”
University officials keep a close eye onovertime spending, Powell said.
“Overtime is closely managed and tracked against a specified annual overtime budget, even considering we do not have full control of circumstances creating overtime,” Powell said.
Creamer said reduction in staff can cause additional overtime hours, but is typically cheaper in the long run.
“The reduction in staff does occasionally necessitate some unplanned overtime,” Creamer said. “But this is still less expensive than adding additional staff.”
Despite some large reductions in staff over the last three years, the facility operations have been asked to control the amount of overtime, Creamer added.
Sophomore Charlie Schreiber said he appreciates the work and dedication of university employees.
“I think the employees do an amazing job,” Schreiber said. “You can’t budget for a snow day, you can’t budget for a power outage. Campus needs to be able to function, and university employees help make that happen even when it means working overtime.”
“The vast majority of our employees are very dedicated and respond to problems even when they would prefer to be at home in bed or with their families celebrating a holiday,” Powell said. “They respond because of their commitment to their jobs and our responsibility to provide a safe place for our students to live and learn.”