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Despite FOIA request, City of Richmond refuses to detail overtime pay of employees

Posted at 11:39 PM, Mar 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-14 23:39:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As Richmond taxpayers face a possible ticking up in their property taxes, CBS 6 wanted to know how much money city employees each make in overtime compared to their counterparts in Henrico and Chesterfield.

After requesting the numbers from all three through the Freedom of Information Act Request, Henrico and Chesterfield quickly handed them over, but Richmond refused.

"This is what astounds me, is that really an option?" Richmond resident Daniela Shew said.

Technically, yes, the city can decline to release the information because the law does not mandate the disclosure of individual personnel's overtime pay - but the law doesn't say they can't be released.

The city's decision doesn't sit well with taxpayers we spoke to.

"We need to see that," Richmond resident Barbara Womack-Bradby said.

"It makes you suspicious. It appears that they're trying to hide something," Shew said.

Especially after they saw a city audit from January.

The audit found that in 2017, 57 employees received more than 700 hours of overtime pay ranging up to 1,889 hours of OT.

According to our calculations, the highest among them would have had to work 8 extra hours for day for 236 days to make that kind of OT.

It also found that no supporting documentation was provided for 20 percent of overtime payments the auditor's office researched.

"We have to own it and fix it," Councilwoman Kim Gray, who represents the 2nd district, said.

The audit plus the denial of our request concerned Gray enough that she penned a letter to the Mayor Thursday asking that he release the OT numbers.

"I find it important for the public and members of the media to have that information because often times they catch things that maybe within City Hall we don't see, and that information is valuable when you're trying to find savings in a budget," Gray said.

Gray said she asked the City Attorney why they declined to release this information. She says she was told that they were concerned about the information being tied to identifiable individuals.

CBS 6's FOIA request did not include a request for individual names, but instead asked for positions, base pay and overtime.