If Augusta city employees seemed busy around the Masters Tournament, it’s because they were, accruing nearly 3,000 hours of overtime during the two-week pay period that ended the Friday of Masters Week.
The tournament is known to keep airport, traffic engineering, maintenance and public safety personnel busy as golf fans descend on the city. This year was no exception, as the city paid out $69,267 in overtime, although some departments said their overtime wasn’t related to the tournament.
According to a report of overtime during the period, which did not include the Saturday, Sunday or the week after the tournament, Augusta Regional Airport personnel accrued the most overtime. Airport security marshals, maintenance workers, customer service agents and other workers racked up 801 hours of overtime during the two weeks.
The amount paid to hourly airport workers for overtime, billed at time-and-a-half, totaled $18,461.48, with the most hours accrued by airport customer service agent Roger Paige Jr., who had 48.5 hours of overtime over 14 days.
Spokeswoman Diane Johnston said the airport budgets for the added expense to handle its busiest time of year.
“We’ve been doing it a long time, so we know every year there’s going to be some and it’s budgeted into our process,” Johnston said about overtime. “We pay for it out of our operating revenues. We don’t get a penny from the city.”
Like Augusta Utilities and Environmental Services, the airport pays its bills from revenue but uses Augusta’s human resources department for payroll and other functions.
While some hourly employees might look forward to extra work during the period, they don’t set their own schedules, she said, nor can the airport compromise on security. Nine airport security marshals worked 211 hours of overtime during the period, which was before many guests departed.
“TSA is out here really checking to make sure they’re doing things right,” Johnston said. “We have to have it.”
At the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, whose budget is paid from city taxes and the general fund, sheriff’s deputies, jailers and clerks posted 252 hours of overtime.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree called the overtime “an unavoidable necessity” not affected by deputies taking leave to work special assignments for the tournament or the ongoing Operation Rolling Thunder, a crackdown on unsafe
“As we can see from the incident in Boston, there is no price tag that can be placed on the lives of innocent citizens,” he said in an e-mail. “We can never let money be the sole reason for the reduction of the safety and security of our community and those who visit us for that week.”
ALSO HIGH ON Masters-related overtime was Augusta’s Recreation, Parks & Facilities department, which includes city landscape and parks maintenance crews. The department, overseen by Deputy Administrator Bill Shanahan until new director Robert Levine begins work next month, paid 164 overtime hours during the period.
Shanahan said making Augusta look nice for the tournament was worth the extra effort.
“You try to keep it clean because a lot of people come into the city, and you want to put your best foot forward, then they come back for vacations; they bring businesses here; they bring events here,” he said. “It’s a really, really good way, a cheap way to market the city.”
Part of the challenge includes cleaning up after crowds enter the tournament in the morning and leave in the afternoon, he said.
Also working significant overtime hours was traffic engineering, whose hourly traffic signal technicians and maintenance crews had 128.25 overtime hours, and Richmond County Correctional Institute, whose officers oversee inmate work crews, with 97.75 overtime hours in the period.
While Environmental Services staff accrued 236.5 hours of overtime in the period, Director Mark Johnson said only a small part – street sweeper operators, who worked about 30 overtime hours – could be directly attributed to the tournament.
“Hospitality houses and things like that have additional garbage, but in the grand scheme of Augusta volume, it’s not that much,” Johnson said. “As many people that come into town, people go out of town.”
Johnson attributed the overtime to the long operating hours at the landfill. The Blythe facility is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week, and the department is short on people, he said.
In Utilities, which ranked second in overtime for the period, with 736 hours, Director Tom Wiedmeier said his department’s overtime is an ongoing, unavoidable part of running a utilities operation 24/7.
“Crews responding to sewer backups and leaks, they’re called up all the time,” he said. “I’ve never been able to figure out a better way to do it than with overtime.”