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Friday, May 13, 2011

Muni Overtime Spending "Out of Control"

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2011 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge A rainy day for Muni
  • A rainy day for Muni

We woke up this morning to the news that Muni was spending a mind-boggling $18 million on overtime alone. But any story that uses the words "Muni" and "too much money" doesn't really throw us for a loop.

Nor were we surprised to read the agency's response to the spending frenzy: "Overtime is not a four letter word," Muni's Operation Chief John Haley told the Board of Supervisors.

But cash is a four letter word and it doesn't fall from trees.

Here is the interesting part: Muni's budget shortfall is exactly the same amount it overran it's OT budget by: $18 million.

So let's get to the reasoning for all of this: Muni claims there are not enough drivers on any given day -- and we believe them, considering how many of them are on non-driving status, perhaps for texting while cruising down Divisadero?

Of the 731,701 overtime hours worked in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, operators accounted for 437,757 of them.

Paul Rose, spokesman for Muni tells SF Weekly that the agency is down 70 drivers to date, mostly because of attrition. At the same time, Muni had provide extraordinary service this past year, like for that thing called the World Series, and the parade following it.

So as Muni officials see it, it's a no-win for the transit agency. As Haley explains it: You either piss riders off by not running the service they want, or piss off taxpayers off by shelling out millions more in OT to give them the service they want.

Needless to say, city supervisors are frustrated, saying Muni's spending habits are out of control. ''The years of promises remind me of Groundhog Day,'' Supervisor David Chiu says in the Chron. ''Management is far better at providing excuses than delivering results.''

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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