Philly to review records for employee who tripled salary in overtime

The city’s Department of Human Services is launching a review of an employee’s fiscal year 2018 payroll records, following a report that she was paid $161,818 in that fiscal year, more than triple her $49,551 salary, thanks to an abundance of overtime.

“We have started pulling records in light of your questions,” city spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said Friday. A full review will begin Monday.

The Inquirer and Daily News reported Thursday that Joy Hurtt, who took 55 days of paid leave between July 1, 2017, and June 30, was paid for working 2,872 hours of overtime. Combined with her regular eight-hour shift, that is the equivalent of working 14 hours every day, including weekends. Hurtt, a 33-year veteran of city government, is a counselor at the city’s juvenile detention center, where there is mandatory overtime in order to maintain appropriate ratios of staff to detainees.

Hurtt is at the top of the seniority list within her unit and whenever there is a need for overtime, she gets priority.

“She’s been one of the highest earners in the past, so I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone” that Hurtt worked so much overtime last year, Taylor said. “This is a woman who volunteers a lot and works a lot.”

In 2016 and 2015, Hurtt was also paid more than $100,000 in annual gross pay due to overtime. The city labor contract that covers her allows overtime to be included in pension calculations. So when Hurtt signed up for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) in 2017, she had enough earnings that when she retires in 2021, she will get an estimated lump sum of $387,055 and start receiving an $88,495 annual pension for the rest of her life.

The first step in reviewing Hurtt’s overtime, Taylor said, is to look at the time record and see when she clocked in and out every day. The detention center uses an electronic payroll system in which each employee swipes in and out with an ID card.

“It’s a tedious process,” Taylor said of the review, noting that human resources officials will have to go through every time record in an archaic payroll system.

Still, the city wants to “make sure everything is on the up and up,” Taylor said.

The review will only focus on Hurtt but could later extend to all detention center staff  “if we believe it’s necessary,” Taylor said.

Contacted by the newspapers, Hurtt declined comment through Taylor.

Not counting Hurtt, the average amount of overtime earned among her coworkers of the same rank was $23,000. Fiscal year 2018 was a record-setting year for the city in overtime, which cost $175 million from the general fund. It was the eighth straight year that the city spent millions more on overtime than it had budgeted.