Municipal Costs Need a Watchful Eye

Overtime costs for municipal employees can quickly mount and therefore deserve special consideration.

"Overtime is typically an area for abuse," Mike LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, told the Erie (Pa.) Times-News for a story about that city's costs. Although such expenses can be legitimate in some cases, LaFaive said, such as for police officers and firefighters, civil service rules and union protections can provide "ample opportunities" for overtime for municipal employees.

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"If the rules are set up so you as a government worker can have a lot of access to overtime, then, theoretically, that's great for you," LaFaive noted. "It's not necessarily great for those of us who have to pay the bills."

Pension obligation bonds that could be used to pay for municipal employees' retirement benefits also deserve scrutiny, Rick Dreyfuss, an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center, warns in this Op-Ed from the Dearborn Times-Herald.