Allegations of mismanagement at EBR EMS after overtime figures surface
BATON ROUGE - The attorney representing the East Baton Rouge Communications District is questioning overtime figures for 36 employees that exceeded $426,000 last year.
According to Attorney Henry Olinde, EMS staffs the communications center in Baton Rouge, but the Communications District is responsible for paying the bill. He said they have no say-so in management, discipline, scheduling or overtime.
"Apparently this is not a new problem, but we are just learning about it," Olinde said.
Documents obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit show 11,126 hours of overtime were worked by 36 employees last year. That cost taxpayers $426,000.
"The board's concern is there is a management and scheduling problem," Olinde said. "That has led to this. The board's concern is this is district money that pays the city-parish that then schedules these employees, but the board has no input or control over them."
The staggering amount of overtime is best highlighted with the top three earners. One employee made approximately $37,000 working 842 hours. A second made $36,000 working 979 hours. A third made $27,000 working 576 hours.
The total amount of money could have hired eight additional employees or purchased three new ambulances according to calculations the WBRZ Investigative Unit conducted.
"On its face, it appears to the board that it's excessive," Olinde said.
Mike Chustz with East Baton Rouge EMS said they are not short-staffed.
"Most EMS are desperately looking for paramedics and dispatchers," Chustz said. "We are near fully staffed right now."
Chustz said the employees there work 12-hour shifts, which guarantee them eight hours of overtime in every paycheck. Chustz also believes changing the way things are done would be even more costly.
"The only way to alleviate that is to change the schedules that we work," Chustz said. "That would force us to hire more employees."
We asked why the overtime figures have ballooned to nearly half a million dollars if they are fully staffed.
"There's no mismanagement," Chustz said. "I firmly believe that... I've never seen any mismanagement in our communications district."
But, Olinde and the communications district believe the taxpayers deserve answers.
"As a taxpayer, like anyone else in the city, I want to make sure the money is spent properly and prudently," Olinde said.
Olinde said a CEA or Cooperative Endeavor Agreement is in the works to change the amount of control the communications district has over management of employees. He hopes the issue will be resolved by the end of the year.