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Audit finds nearly 4,000 state employees receiving more than $5K in overtime

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Overtime might be overkill for some state employees, according to a legislative audit presented to lawmakers Feb. 11.

The audit looked at several state agencies that paid large amounts of overtime to their employees and found 3,346 state employees from 64 different state agencies received at least $5,000 in overtime between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.

The highest amount recorded was $425,000.08 recorded as overtime for Marshall University, and the recipient was identified by the Associated Press as head football coach Doc Holliday.

However, Marshall's Chief of Staff Matt Turner clarified that Holliday didn't receive any overtime pay. Turner said the state accounting system used to indicate overtime pay may not always indicate overtime pay.

"That is the case with most of the listed employees you are seeing in the auditor's report," Turner said. "Marshall University, in working with the state auditor's office, determined that in order for our payroll systems to share information, this was the best code to use for overtime as well as extra help or supplemental pay."

Turner said any pay on top of Holliday's state-funded pay would be placed under that code, which also is used for temporary employee compensation, among other circumstances. Turner said some of the audit's listings for Marshall employees, such as police officers working extra shifts at special events, were true overtime, but the listings for Holliday, Marshall men's basketball coach Tom Herrion or Marshall President Stephen Kopp were actual overtime pay.

Four employees of Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital received more than $100,000 in overtime, according to the audit.

Of the 29 employees who received more than $25,000 the auditors selected for further review, they found 28 of the 29 were enrolled in the state's Public Employees Insurance Agency.

Also among the 29, 11 employees "consistently" received $25,000 or more during fiscal years 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to the audit.

The audit determined that many employees would likely increase their PEIA payment tier classifications because of the amount of extra compensation. State law requires PEIA insurance premiums to be set at "different levels of costs based on the insureds' ability to pay."

Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said some agencies might be using high amounts of overtime to hide the true salaries of some employees.

"You might set the salary at $55,000, then use overtime to get them up to $80,000, but it won't show up," Allred told lawmakers. "It would show up in the salary line just as $55,000."

But, Allred said there can be legitimate reasons for high overtime and used Division of Highways drivers as an example, since heavy snow one year could send a lot of snowplows onto the roads.