Overtime costs adding up for DeSoto County - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Overtime costs adding up for DeSoto County

Desoto County leaders tell Action News Five that the emergency responders who worked around the clock both in Desoto County and on the Gulf Coast need to be paid and the numbers are adding up.

The emergency responders who put in 24-hour shifts have mostly gone home now ever since the shelters in Desoto County closed down and evacuees moved into transitional housing.

But the overtime costs in Desoto County alone are adding up.

"Through September 12th, we've probably incurred about 20-thousand dollars for certain emergency personnel," said County Administrator Michael Garriga. He says that just covers overtime for about ten people during a two week period. That number - he says - will likely double.

A crew of Desoto County workers is due back from the coast this week. And another is already headed southbound.

Garriga says the $20,000 number will likely double.

"This situation is unusual because normally an emergency takes place, we respond to it, it's over in a few hours. This is the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States," said Desoto County Emergency Management Director Timothy Curtis, who also told me FEMA will reimburse most of the overtime costs, if not all.

But, in the meantime, it means the county budget fronts the money.

And in some cases, it could lead to disputes about some county workers who are hourly and some who are salaried who normally wouldn't get overtime.

"What we've got to do is basically determine who is exempt and who is non-exempt not just for this particular event but for the future," said Garriga.

That is a process, Garriga says that was started expressly because of this issue. In many cases, some of these workers were reporting hundreds of hours of overtime in a pay period. He says they will be paid for their work, but that the county will use this as an opportunity to tighten their overtime policy.

Powered by Frankly