By TOM GANTERT
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Four employees in the city of San Diego fire department made $200,000 plus in overtime in 2021 and were the highest paid employees in the city.
A police officer was the highest paid in the city in 2021 with gross pay of $359,138 including $219,805 in overtime. Another police officer made $345,337 with $212,995 in overtime.
The biggest overtime recipient in 2021 was firefighter Eric Dunnick, who was one of the three named plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city that claimed the city was underpaying firefighters with how it determined the pay rate for overtime. The lawsuit was filed in 2019 and represented 705 fire department employees. The city settled the lawsuit for $3.4 million in 2021.
Mr. Dunnick’s regular pay was listed as $35,698 in 2020 and he received $204,462 in overtime for gross pay of $309,281 that year. In 2021, Dunnick’s base salary was listed as $42,642 yet he earned $236,937 in overtime and had gross pay of $329,948.
Media spokespeople from the city departments of Personnel, Fire Rescue and Emergency Services did not respond to emails seeking an explanation.
The city paid out $113.4 million in overtime in 2021, an increase over the $110.8 million in overtime it paid out the previous year, according to data received in an open records request.
San Diego has increased the number of people working in public safety over the past nine years. The number of budgeted full-time and part-time employees in the police department has increased from 2,402 in 2012 to 2,584 in 2021, according to the city’s 2021 financial report. The city had 1,208 employees in fire, life safety and homeland security in 2021 and that increased to 1,526 in 2021.
The city spent $866 million on public safety in 2021, which accounted for 49% of its general fund spending. By comparison, the city’s transportation spending in 2021 was $122 million.