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In calm year, Hernando Emergency Management worker rakes in OT pay

BROOKSVILLE — In 2007, a year without serious tropical storm systems or other major local emergencies, former Emergency Management secretary Stephanie Anderson racked up overtime that totaled more than 12 extra weeks of pay.

That amounted to 94 percent of all overtime paid to Emergency Management employees that year.

This year, before Anderson was placed on leave March 28, she had already accrued another week's worth of overtime, when no other Emergency Management employee had filed for any overtime at all. Since overtime is paid at time and a half, 40 hours of overtime means 60 extra hours of pay.

All of this was taking place after an April 2006 edict from Emergency Management director Tom Leto saying "we have spent a lot of money this year on overtime and need to tighten our belts."

He went on to tell his small staff: "I want each of you to review your schedule and either change or give yourself plenty of time to be able to flex potential overtime situations in advance."

He concluded, "Overtime from this point forward must be authorized by me in advance of an event with no exceptions."

The county's paper trail on Emergency Management overtime could shed some light on the issues currently under investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. The criminal investigation has been ongoing for much of the past month.

The focus has been payroll and overtime issues, according to Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Nicolai, who filed the original complaint with the Sheriff's Office.

Few details have been released about the inquiry. After news of the investigation made headlines, Deputy County Administrator Larry Jennings initially asked Leto to take a few days off, and someone in Human Resources made the same request of Anderson.

Then, on March 28, Jennings placed both Leto and Anderson on paid leave "until further notice."

On Monday, Anderson submitted a handwritten resignation, effective April 18, to Human Resources director Barbara Dupre. She gave no reason and could not be reached for comment.

Leto has declined to comment during the course of the investigation, but county procedures make him responsible for approving overtime.

All of the county's hourly employees file time sheets, which their supervisor must approve before they are sent on to payroll, Dupre said. "Basically it's (department heads') responsibility to ensure that (employees') work is being done," she said.

Overtime records released in response to a public records request by the St. Petersburg Times show that in 2006, the year Anderson started with the county, she earned $639 for 34 hours of overtime. During that year, Emergency Management spent $3,831 on overtime expenses.

Then in 2007, Anderson earned $6,486 in overtime pay; the entire Emergency Management operation spent $6,920 for overtime.

This year, all $818 paid out in overtime has gone to Anderson.

Jennings was not available to comment late this week on what kinds of special projects or programs Anderson might have been involved with to run up the overtime bill. Mark Tobert, whom Jennings appointed to head Emergency Management until the investigation has been resolved, was at the National Hurricane Conference and could not be reached for comment.

Before she joined the county's Emergency Management team, Anderson, 44, spent more than 12 years with Miami-Dade public schools. She was secretary and treasurer at a school for several years, handling all of the internal funds, financial transactions and personnel payroll functions.

In 2001, she became a regional business manager for the school district. She monitored monthly bank reconciliations and internal fund financial activities, trained administrators and treasurers in fiscal practices, and examined school accounting to make suggestions on how to correct deficiencies.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached
or (352) 848-1434.

>>fast facts

The OT tab

Overtime paid to Emergency Management secretary Stephanie Anderson:

$639 in 2006

$6,486 in 2007

$818 so far in 2008

In calm year, Hernando Emergency Management worker rakes in OT pay 04/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 9:58am]
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