One Tampa City Fleet Mechanic Gets 1,200 Hours Overtime, Another Bills City $33K in One Year

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While many Tampa Bay area residents face cutbacks in their hours at work, some City of Tampa employees are cashing in on thousands of hours of overtime.

And you might be paying the bill.

You see them just about everywhere, City of Tampa-owned cars and trucks, which keep government employees moving.

“We have over 32 hundred vehicles and pieces of equipment,” said Ocea Lattimore, who oversees the department which manages Tampa’s Fleet Maintenance Division.

The division has about 35 employees and has a budget of nearly $18 Million.

In recent years, the division has seen a drastic increase in the amount of overtime being paid to employees.

The I-Team reviewed five years of the department's overtime records and discovered one mechanic collected 1,217 hours of overtime last year, which is about five extra hours a day, if he took no vacation or sick time.

The same employee logged 950 hours the previous year.

Some employees earn more than $35,000 a year in overtime.

Fleet maintenance overtime hours have increased from 3,113 in 2010 to 6,354 last year, even though records show three new hourly employees came on board during that same time period.   

Lattimore says since she's been director over the past year, she's started a new minor repairs line, to get vehicles back on the road more quickly and has tried to get employees to work smarter.

But overtime continues to add up on some jobs. 

A 1997 armored truck was sold to the Tampa Police Department in 2013 for $10. Since then, it's been at the fleet maintenance facility, where it has incurred about $60,000 in repair costs.

Lattimore says the finished product will be a bargain, since the police department's other armored truck, bought before the Republican National Convention, cost $273,000.

The vehicle under renovation had 565,000 miles when the city acquired it.

We found a newer armored truck with just 49,000 miles advertised for sale online for just $38,800.

Some of the city’s fleet maintenance work is being shipped out to outside vendors.

The city pays more than $1 Million a year to Bill Currie Ford to maintain 654 police vehicles, about 20 percent of the entire fleet.

“A lot of cops come here and compliment us on how fast we get the work out,” said David Andino, who oversees the dealership’s repairs, maintenance and warranty work for the city.

His mechanics don't get any overtime. They get paid a flat rate based on the job, giving them an incentive to work quickly. 

He says that’s a better deal for taxpayers.

“It’s a real good deal, because those police officers will be back out there serving the community in no time,” Andino said.

Other city of Tampa departments have had recent overtime issues. 

A Paving Division administrative assistant retired after the I-Team reported she earned $172,000 in overtime pay, some while OT was banned for administrative assistants in her department.

Public works special events employee Mark Williams earned $11,000 in overtime before he was fired after a GPS verified he made dozens of unauthorized stops on city time in a city truck at restaurants, stores and friends' homes.

“I could be out there making those stops or be out here sitting around,” Williams told us the week he was fired. 

Lattimore hopes to hire more qualified mechanics and take other measures to make her division more efficient.  

When asked what her numbers would look like next year, she said the division would definitely see a decrease in overtime.

This article originally appeared on ABC Action News.

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