Budget Cuts Reduce Overtime at Iowa Universities

Students take notes in their Principles of Macroeconomics lecture Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 in the John Pappajohn Business Building the UI campus in Iowa City. Business is the University of Iowa's number one major with 2274 students. (Brian Ray)

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By Becky Ogann

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Overtime has been reduced at Iowa's three universities and two special schools overseen by the Board of Regents, at least in part because of budget cuts and reduced maintenance, officials said.

At Iowa State University, budget cuts clearly played a role in reducing overtime in 2010, said Warren Madden, vice president for business and finance said. ISU had fewer employees in 2010, and the university also reduced services in areas such as grounds maintenance and building cleaning, he said.

"We have made substantial reductions in levels of service, part of our budget reductions," Madden said. "That results in less overtime."

Along with Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, the regents oversee the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton. Those both include kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Clearly, people had to be very judicious in the use of overtime in controlling expenses," said Kevin Ward, University of Iowa assistant vice president for human resources.

The University of Iowa paid about $4.2 million in overtime in fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30. That's down from the nearly $5.7 million UI paid in overtime in fiscal 2009.

Comp time taken — when an employee gets time off for extra hours worked rather than an overtime payment — was valued at about $1.5 million at the University of Iowa in 2010, compared with $1.6 million the previous year.

UI paid much more in overtime in 2009 and 2010 than did Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. In fiscal 2010, Iowa State paid about $886,400 and UNI paid about $250,900 — decreases of 12 percent and 18 percent, respectively, from 2009. Overtime is paid to merit staff and employees in unions, such as secretaries, nurses, facilities workers and police officers.

Most of the overtime costs listed under the University of Iowa total come from UI Hospitals and Clinics — about 70 percent to 75 percent of overtime paid in each of the past two years, Ward said.

"In large part, that's because of the variability in 24-7 staffing and a host of issues related to running a hospital," he said.

Overtime at UI Hospitals and Clinics isn't taxpayer money, since the hospital gets less than 7 percent of its budget from state dollars, University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore said.

Flooding in 2008 also likely affected University of Iowa overtime numbers for fiscal 2009, which began July 1, 2008, Ward said.

"We really would have been in the thick of things in terms of recovery," he said.

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