Fairfax Co. workers take home over $100K in overtime; sparks policy review

WASHINGTON — Fairfax County will review overtime policies after more than 1,700 county workers earned over $100,000 last year, due in part to overtime or other additional pay.

One fire technician with a base scheduled salary of around $90,000 ended up with three times that gross income — making $270,918.46 in 2016, thanks in large part to $156,000 in overtime pay. Two-thirds of the overtime pay was tied to callback pay, an additional minimum payment for firefighters who are called back to work after leaving for the day.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who requested the list, called that “a little steep.”

If first responders are overworked, he said, “They’re not just fiscal issues — they’re public safety issues.”

Over 1,700 (1,718) county employees who are not department heads earned at least $100,000 last year and received some kind of overtime, bonus or other additional payments beyond their base salaries (819 other county employees earned at least $100,000, but either served as department heads or did not receive any additional payments beyond expected salaries).

Nearly all of the 1,718 county workers who made more than $100,000 and got overtime or other payments work in the fire, police or sheriff’s departments.

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While Herrity expects that first responders will always have some level of overtime because they need to stay on the job when there is an emergency, he hopes filling fire department vacancies or revising policies could address a number of issues.

“I’m looking for things like the definition of overtime,” he said. “What are we doing to avoid overtime? Do we have staffing shortages that are driving the overtime?”

County staff told Herrity in a written response that accompanied the list of workers that some of the employees could have changed jobs during the year or could hold multiple positions in the county government.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got lots of questions,” Herrity said.

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed the county staff to review overtime pay and scheduling policies in all county departments based on financial and safety impacts. The review is intended to include comparisons with other jurisdictions in the region.

The top 16 overtime earners were paid more than $90,000 last year in overtime alone.

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