Travis Mackel NEW ORLEANS —
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in what the City Council calls questionable overtime have been paid out to one city agency.
And that agency is now at the center of an investigation by the New Orleans Office of Inspector General.
In some cases, city workers earned up to 90 percent of their salary in overtime.
Now, we let you know who earned the most.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission says the questionable overtime payouts need to be carefully reviewed to see if there is any criminal intent or if it’s just a case of very sloppy bookkeeping.
From historic cemeteries to performance halls to New Orleans City Hall, the Department of Property Management manages and maintains dozens of properties across New Orleans.
But the agency is under fire.
And, as we first reported last month, it is also under investigation.
Records obtained by WDSU Investigates show that the city paid out almost $900,000 in overtime to workers in property management from 2016-2018.
In some cases, that money wasn’t even budgeted for and, in other cases, it can’t be explained.
“I think what this shows is a gross failure to manage public assets,” said Rafael Goyeneche, with the MCC.
“This is wrongdoing. Right now, at the very least, it’s administrative wrongdoing,” said Goyeneche.
And now we know who was paid the most overtime.
Records show that, in each of the past three years, Thomas Terry, Iron Porsche and Alan Burkhardt raked in the most overtime.
Let’s take a closer look at Terry, a public works maintenance supervisor.
He took in the most extra pay since 2016.
That year, his base pay was $56,000 and he made another $51,000 in overtime. That’s 91 percent of his regular salary.
The numbers are almost identical in 2017, when Terry had a base salary of $57,000 and made $53,000, or 93 percent of his regular salary, in overtime.
In 2018, his base salary was $63,000 and, in only the first nine months of that year, he took home over $43,000 in overtime.
That’s prompted council members to ask questions.
“I hate to put it there but it seems that some of these cards have been fabricated and nobody was checking,” said Councilmember-at-Large Helena Moreno.
City workers are also not supposed to exceed 750 hours of overtime in a year.
But records show that Terry did so the last three years, Porsche did so the last two and Burkhardt came very close to doing so.
Last year, when Mitch Landrieu was leaving the mayor’s office and Latoya Cantrell was taking over, 13 property management workers made double-digit overtime.
Some made 60 percent, or even 70 percent, of their annual salaries in overtime.
So, last summer, City Hall, and Cantrell, changed the way overtime is approved and slammed the door hard on the extra hours.
In a written statement, Cantrell’s spokesperson said:
“Overtime has decreased nearly 70 percent in the department. All overtime in the department now has to be justified and approved. The administration invited the Office of Inspector General to help address the overtime issues.”
“They may find a shocking lack of paperwork that will support this overtime. That doesn’t mean that a crime was committed. It means that maybe it was just gross mismanagement on this,” said Goyeneche.
The inspector genEral has not given any time frame on when he could wrap up this investigation.
But we are told it could be in the next few months.