The city of Key West paid its employees — including 11 salaried department heads, the chief of police, the fire chief and the appointed city clerk —a total of nearly $2 million in overtime pay during Hurricane Irma and its immediate aftermath.
City Manager Jim Scholl was not eligible for the overtime under the city’s emergency payroll plan, but Assistant City Manager Greg Veliz received $10,126 in overtime between Sept. 6 and 18.
City Attorney Shawn Smith didn’t receive any overtime pay.
City Clerk Cheri Smith was paid $11,554 in overtime and Police Chief Donie Lee was paid $15,987 in special hurricane-duty pay.
“Nobody was sitting behind a desk,” said city spokeswoman Alyson Crean, whose overtime pay was $7,168 for 154 hours. “Everybody got their hands dirty.”
The city department heads other than police and emergency officials took on special emergency-duty roles, such as coordinating with the Navy and making sure there was enough food to care for city employees who withstood the Category 4 storm that roared across the Lower Keys on Sept. 10.
Special Irma-duty pay totaled $1,616,869, with additional taxes and pension payments estimated at $355,684, making employee pay a total of $1,972,553 above normal operating costs, according to records provided by Finance Director Mark Finigan.
The total overtime pay largely went to the police department, where officers earned $685,488, and the fire department, which received $388,974 in OT. EMS received $73,000 in overtime.
Others who received overtime pay despite having yearly salaries that don’t normally include extra-hour pay, according to records provided by the city:
▪ Parking Manager John Wilkins, $10,247.
▪ Finance Director Mark Finigan, $8,687.
▪ Human Resources Director Samantha Farist, $10,554.
▪ IT Director Patti McLauchlin, $7,703.
▪ Engineering Director James Bouquet, $10,815.
▪ Transportation Department Director Rod Delostrinos Jr., $10,34.
▪ Recreation Facilities Director Randall Sterling, $4,651.
▪ Director of Community Services Marcus Davila, $8,643.
▪ FEMA Coordinator Scott Fraser, $12,781.
▪ Port and Marina Director Doug Bradshaw, $10,850.
Not all department heads stayed. Jim Young, of code compliance, for example, didn’t work the storm for the city.
Fire Chief Michael Davila was paid $13,196 in overtime during Irma, while EMS Director Eddie Perez was paid $11,018.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely reimburse all of the overtime pay, said Finigan, who explained that the city has its emergency pay policy to cover events such as Irma.
“It kicked into gear the day the mayor declared there to be an imminent emergency,” Finigan said, adding that salaried employees worked in extraordinary circumstances.
That was Sept. 6 and the emergency event lasted until Sept. 18 for salaried employees and Sept. 24 for non-exempt workers.
Veliz slept in his office and limited himself to a total eight hours of pay a day when the total limit was 12 hours a day, Finigan said.
“He worked from the 6th through the 24th nonstop,” Finigan said. “Just like others did, we all stayed here. We were cognizant of the fact we needed to control the cost.”
Part of his job was to make sure everyone was recording the overtime pay in meticulous detail to ensure FEMA would reimburse the city.
Public Works was among the largest overtime payouts during Irma, totaling $91,789, while Recreation paid $51,000 in overtime and Transit paid $66,600.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen