Deputy overtime still an issue in King County

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 1, 2010 at 5:27 PM

SEATTLE - A King County Sheriff's spokesman says between 40 and 60 sheriff's deputies will be laid off this fall. But this comes with growing criticism of how Sheriff Sue Rahr is managing her budget, especially when it comes to overtime costs.

In the King County Sheriff's Office, there are at least five deputies who make more than $50,000 a year in overtime.

The highest overtime earner is Deputy Mike Miner who last year grossed $228,000 - $128,000 of it was overtime pay.

"Because of the nature of our job, we will always have a certain  amount of overtime," said Sgt. John Urquhart, King County Sheriff's Office.

There are other deputies who make $60,000, $70,000, and $80,000 in overtime.

We first brought this overtime issue to light in 2002.

"I think it's very high. But I'm more concerned about the number of hours in a row than the total number of hours," said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr in 2005.

But the money spent in overtime remains very high and now budget cuts are coming.

This year's sheriff's budget is $142 million. Overtime is estimated to be 6 percent. That's $8.5 million in overtime.

$8 million could pay for at least 60 new officers.

"That's right. Is it going to be cheaper in the long run? There is a point when it's cheaper to pay time and a half than to hire another deputy," said Urquhart.

The sheriff says her hands are tied. She does not have the legal authority to negotiate the contract with the deputies union that allows the highest paid deputies to rack up overtime.

The contract with the King County Officers Guild was signed by former King County Executive Ron Sims.

Aside from generous OT language, it gives deputies a 5 percent raise this year and for the next two years, despite the county's dire financial shape.

The Police Guild contract expires in 2012. It will be up to King County Executive Dow Constantine to negotiate the terms of the contract.

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