ALBANY – The overtime queen of state government is a mental-hospital nurse who made almost twice her salary in extra pay last year.
Olukemi Akinyemi, who works at Bronx Psychiatric Center, made $93,581 in overtime on a base salary of $50,187, according to figures provided for the Post by the state Comptroller’s Office.
Akinyemi, who has worked for the state since 2000, declined to comment, yelling, “Leave me alone!” before hanging up the phone.
She is one of two state employees who raked in more than $90,000 in overtime last year, according to the Comptroller’s Office.
Troy Cooper, a maintenance supervisor at Manhattan Psychiatric Center, made $91,479 in overtime on top of his $49,799 base salary.
Cooper, a 21-year veteran with the state, has made an astonishing $286,074 in overtime the past three years, according to the figures.
“A certain amount of overtime is to be expected, but when you get to this level, it begs the question of mismanagement,” said E.J. McMahon, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for Public Policy.
All told, of last year’s top 20 overtime earners, every one made more in overtime than their regular salaries, with seven exceeding $80,000 in extra pay.
Cynthia McAdams, a developmental aide at Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office, had the greatest gap between her base salary and her overtime last year.
She made $84,331 in overtime – an improvement of 230 percent on her $36,389 salary.
State overtime costs jumped dramatically in recent years.
In some cases, workers nearing retirement seek to boost their salaries in their final years to improve their pensions. In others, employees are required to work extra shifts because of staffing shortages.
A total of 17 of the 20 top overtime earners worked in mental-health facilities or prisons, leading critics to say those agencies were severely understaffed after years of cuts by the Pataki administration.
Pataki aides had always argued that it was cheaper for the state to pay the overtime than hire new employees and pay them a salary and benefits.
But officials from the state’s two largest public-employee unions argue that’s not the case when workers are earning so much overtime, adding that care suffers when tired employees are required to work extra shifts.
“No one wants to have a nurse on their 16th hour taking care of their mother,” said Darcy Wells, spokeswoman for the Public Employees Federation.
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