Director works to trim Muni fat

When pigs get fat, they get slaughtered. When Muni gets too bloated for its budget, it gets a trim.

The problem is overtime costs. According to city transportation director Ed Reiskin, Muni’s overtime spending for this year was set for $32 million, but the actual spending is expected to reach $60 million.

During the half of the current fiscal year, which ends in September, 113 transit employees already surpassed their allotted overtime hours, Jerold Chinn of the SF Public Press reported.

A spokesman for Muni said the high number of overtime hours was due to staffing shortages, special events, and transit system failures.

The problem also stems from cuts aimed at dealing with a $53 million deficit, which led to layoffs.

Muni is trying to deal with the unsustainable costs by cutting a number of top-level management positions, which is expected to save $2 million a year.

Still, saving $2 million when you’re going $28 million over budget isn’t going to go very far.

That’s why the agency has used other strategies to fix the problem, too, like hiring new full-time workers. Their logic? Paying regular-wage hours costs considerably less than paying for overtime. Simple, really.

Director Ed Reiskin tried to put a positive spin on the spending situation as the Board of Supervisors and an oversight committee review the facts:

“We are looking for ways that deploy our staff to figure out if we can do it more efficiently and effectively so we can reduce the need for overtime.”

Agency spokeman Paul Rose added:

“As we move forward with the new plans, we anticipate the use of less overtime.”