FILE - Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority's John Haynes Holmes Towers are shown, Thursday, April 4, 2019, in New York. 

(The Center Square) – A Bronx plumber who works for the city of New York's Housing Authority had a base salary of $96,000. But that plumber made $223,776 in overtime in 2021 to boost his total pay to $325,752.

The authority said that in 2022, 17 of the 20 employees earning the most overtime worked in the heating department, including the top earner. Heat and hot water outages are emergency repairs that often require "extensive work by plumbers at any hour of the day or night," a spokesperson for the authority said.

Most workers get a 1.5 pay rate for working more than 35 hours per week, but plumbers are paid 2 times the pay rate for overtime, according to the housing authority.

The overtime figures come on the heels of an investigation earlier this year into overtime abuse at the agency.

Nine plumbers working for the New York City Housing Authority made more than $161,000 in overtime in 2021. The New York City Housing Authority paid out $144 million in overtime in 2021 with those high-paid plumbers putting in 1,700 to 2,100 hours of overtime.

A supervisor plumber within the New York City Housing Authority made $356,591 in 2021. That supervisor's base pay was $100,627 but he put in for 2,249 hours of overtime which translated to $248,749 in overtime.

A 40-hour workweek for 52 weeks is equal to 2,080 hours.

Another plumber earned $315,569 in 2021.

The headcount for the NYC Housing Authority has increased from 10,684 employees in 2018 to a budgeted 11,811 employees in 2021, according to a city report.

The entire city of New York had 403 plumbers working for it in 2021 spread among various city departments and agencies.

The office of the New York state comptroller released a report that the city's "uniformed agencies" – police, fire, corrections and sanitation – set a record in fiscal year 2022 for overtime costs.

However, in 2021, 10 of the top 15 city of New York employee overtime earners were from the NYC Housing Authority, which is the largest public housing authority in North America.

In January, the NYC Housing Authority terminated or returned 22 provisional workers to their former civil service titles after an investigation showed they abused overtime. The agency said its overtime policy is needed to address increased staffing during the heating season and for handling emergencies on weekends and holidays. 

The internal investigation initially identified 66 skilled trade workers "through surveillance or tracking who have potentially cheated the Authority by overbilling for overtime they worked." An additional 12 skilled trade supervisors were interviewed as part of the investigation, according to a news release.

Of the 66 workers, 22 were provisional employees. Eighteen were terminated and four were returned to prior civil service title pending discipline. None of the employees were supervisors.

The provisional employees include 18 plumber helpers, 16 of whom were terminated and two returned to their prior civil service titles pending further discipline. Four were carpenters; two of them were terminated and two returned to their prior civil service titles pending further discipline, according to a news release. 

The 22 provisional employees made a total of $1.4 million in 2021 and three employees made more than $100,000 in 2021.

The other 44 workers remained part of the ongoing investigation.

“NYCHA is committed to investigating all malfeasance and will take appropriate disciplinary measures as needed,” NYCHA Vice President of Quality and Cost Control Jay Flaherty said at the time.

The New York City Housing Authority is the largest public housing authority in the U.S. It provides housing to about 1 in 15 New Yorkers in more than 177,000 apartments within 335 housing developments.

Investigative Reporter

Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.

Managing Editor

Tom Gantert worked at many daily newspapers including the Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and USA Today. Gantert was the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential for five years before joining The Center Square.