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Bus driver overtime costs will be 'rectified,' Allegheny County exec says

| Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
A bus rider exits the Port Authority's 14 Ohio Valley at Heinz Field on the North Shore on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A bus rider exits the Port Authority's 14 Ohio Valley at Heinz Field on the North Shore on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Saturday he believes the Port Authority's overtime costs “will be rectified.”

“An agency this size, with this kind of budget, you just can't turn it around overnight. I think it will be rectified. I think they've shown a very good sense of lowering costs.”

The Tribune-Review reported on Saturday that six of the eight highest-paid transit agency employees were drivers, some earning more than $80,000 in overtime.

“I hope people don't take one or two salaries, even five or 10 salaries, out of context and say, ‘Oh, my God.' I think you have to look at the overall picture,” Fitzgerald said as he accompanied Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf on a tour of the Strip District.

Payroll records show that CEO Ellen M. McLean made $187,291 in the last fiscal year, and COO Bill Miller made $136,008. The next six-highest employees were bus drivers.

Fitzgerald said some overtime costs were driven by the agency trying to address complaints about delays for Pirates and Steeler games, the annual regatta and other events.

“I think they're moving forward to start that planning process,” Fitzgerald said of working to lower overtime.

The agency budget for fiscal 2014-15 is $388.5 million. McLean would be paid $215,000 this fiscal year.

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie has said staff reductions led to some overtime costs. The agency was down 50 drivers but did not fill the slots because of uncertainty surrounding funding before the passage of the state's transportation law, Act 89, in November.

Last year's budget included more overtime for drivers who worked extra to fill the empty slots, Ritchie said.

The agency spent about $2.39 million on overtime in the fiscal year that ended in June, up from $2.38 million in the prior year, records show.

Port Authority has made several rounds of route cuts and layoffs while struggling with its finances. In 2001, Port Authority had 235 routes; today, it has 102.

Ritchie has said the agency is hiring drivers, who cost about $98,000 annually, including pay and benefits, which will help reduce overtime.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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