Salaried county administrators cash in on overtime payments

$825,039 in overtime pay given during COVID crisis

    Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - High-ranking, salaried administrators have cashed in on overtime pay during the Coronavirus crisis. 

    A report issued by Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw shows that political appointees in the County made $825,039 in overtime pay during the 18-weeks of Coronavirus crisis work. 

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    That includes $441,655 in pay to the Erie County Sheriff's office, and $83,996 in overtime payments to Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. Out of the 54 employees listed in the overtime pay report, only three, including Burstein, work in the Health Department.

    "It's a lot of taxpayer dollars," Mychajliw said. "The numbers just don't look good."

    The positions listed in the report are not typically able to receive overtime, but were paid through $160 Million in federal stimulus funds Erie County received that can only be used on COVID-only related expenses and not on any previously budgeted expense.

    The County Executive and other elected officials can not receive overtime.

    "We really need to do a deep dive into what was going on - my initial reaction is that I'm shocked," said Republican Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo. "It's not as if any of these people aren't paid well - for example - the health commissioner's base salary for 2020 is over $207,000 a year, and overtime at $90,000 over three months is a lot.

    "I'm sure that Dr. Burstein did a ton of work dealing with the pandemic, but we need to look at everybody from the top down to see exactly what was being done and whether or not there was anyone that might have been abusing the overtime system," he continued.

    Listen to Lorigo's full comments below:

    Democratic Legislator Kevin Hardwick also provided comment.

    "I think it's something that we will be looking into further," he began. "The comptroller just issued a report - he clocked it in I think at 4:59 last night, and we haven't had a chance to look at it given the gravity of everything we're talking about today. We'll be looking at that, and I think more investigation has to be done.

    "There was reason for a lot of this overtime on the part of salaried employees, and because of the declaration of emergency, they can be paid," Hardwick continued. "We want to make sure, however, that opportunity was not exploited by individuals." 

    Listen to Hardwick's full comments below:

    The top overtime payouts went to:

    • Health Commissioner Gale Burstein, who logged 580.1 hours of overtime for $83,996
    • Erie County Sheriff Chief of Special Services Scott Patronik, who logged 659.5 hours of overtime for $53,927
    • Erie County Sheriff First Deputy Superintendent of Compliance Michael Reardon, who logged 549.5 hours of overtime for $49,451
    • Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman, who logged 473.5 hours of overtime for $46,538
    • Erie County Sheriff First Deputy Superintendent Paul Evans Sr., who logged 540 hours of overtime for $44,156

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