The woman who last year earned more overtime pay than any other county employee in Rock or Walworth counties said she used some of the extra money to help others.
Alyce Matingwina, a registered nurse at Rock Haven nursing home, netted $57,966 in overtime pay in 2018. Some of that money went toward helping build a water well in her home village in Zimbabwe, she said.
“Nursing’s my passion … If I didn’t love my job, I wouldn’t be working overtime,” Matingwina said. “… I always wanted to go back home and help my people. I work very hard.”
The Gazette analyzed 2018 overtime paid by Rock and Walworth counties. Matingwina is one of 10 employees in Rock County and 12 in Walworth County who made more than $20,000 in overtime last year.
Both counties generally have seen overtime pay steadily grow in the past five years. Administrators in both counties agree an increasingly tight labor market is helping fuel the increase.
In 2018, Rock County spent $3.8 million on overtime, and Walworth County spent $1.8 million. More than half of all overtime pay went to workers in the counties’ sheriff’s offices and nursing homes.
The Walworth County Sheriff’s Office accounted for 70% of the county’s overtime pay last year, and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office made up 34% of all overtime.
County administrators said labor shortages have plagued each county and left employees working overtime to fill vacancies. Employees in different departments work overtime for different reasons, they said.
Rock County Administrator Josh Smith said it generally is cheaper to fill vacancies rather than pay employees overtime. But Rock County has had difficulty recruiting and retaining staff, he said, particularly certified nursing assistants.
“There’s always going to be overtime,” Smith said. “... There are things going on that are intended to reduce overtime. But one of the reasons we have overtime as high as we do, and that we expect will continue, is just the state of the economy.”
Walworth County Administrator Dave Bretl said the labor shortage is a “serious” problem and that recruiting workers for night, weekend and holiday positions is a lingering issue.
“We’ve got vacancies that we’re trying to fill,” Bretl said. “The problem with that is, when you have somebody who’s required to work long hours of overtime, it just becomes a self-perpetuating situation where they get burned out.”
While the counties struggle to find workers, employees such as Matingwina are able to work more and boost their pay.
For Matingwina, more overtime means being able to fight HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe.
Matingwina was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Wisconsin in 2000. She said she traveled to her home country last year, taught children about HIV and AIDS and donated money to a company that drilled a water well and provided drinking water to her home village, which she said will allow residents with HIV or AIDS to live longer.
“Water is life for them,” she said. “... Now, they can just go to the taps and draw the water.
“Water is precious for them. It’s so dry. There is no water. Water for them is like a diamond. ... I’m going to work harder and harder and save these people.”
Matingwina was not the only Rock Haven employee to net thousands in overtime last year. Nursing home staff recorded the second-highest overtime total among departments in each county.
Rock Haven made up 27% of Rock County’s overall overtime pay, totaling more than $1 million. Lakeland Health Care Center in Walworth County made up 15% of all overtime, costing $276,000.
Twenty-nine Rock Haven employees—11 certified nursing assistants, 10 registered nurses, five licensed practical nurses and three nursing supervisors—netted more than $10,000 in overtime last year, and 148 employees made at least $1,000 in overtime.
At Lakeland Health Care Center in Elkhorn, 10 employees—five certified nursing assistants, three licensed practical nurses and two registered nurses—made at least $5,000 in overtime. Seventy-two employees made at least $1,000 in overtime.
Bretl said a shortage of nurses and certified nursing assistants largely is causing the need for more overtime in the county’s nursing home.
Smith said in Rock Haven in the past month, there have been upward of 18 certified nursing assistant vacancies.
“That leads to a lot of overtime because those shifts have to be covered,” Smith said. “It’s hard to recruit and retain CNAs. There’s a high demand for CNAs around Rock County, the state and the country.”
Each county’s sheriff’s office recorded the highest overtime pay among departments.
Interestingly, each county spent about the same on sheriff’s office overtime—Rock County spent $1.28 million on overtime, and Walworth County spent $1.29 million.
Thirty-eight employees in each sheriff’s office made at least $10,000 in overtime. In Walworth County, 15 of those were deputies, 14 were correctional officers and six were sergeants.
In the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, 16 deputies, 11 correctional officers and seven sergeants made at least $10,000 in overtime.
In Rock County, 175 sheriff’s office employees made at least $1,000 in overtime. That number was 158 in Walworth County.
In January, The Gazette reported the Rock County Sheriff’s Office had 11 vacancies. Six of those were end-of-the-year retirements, and the remaining four were in court services, the ID bureau and a recreational safety deputy.
Chief Deputy Barb Tillman told The Gazette law enforcement agencies everywhere are seeing fewer candidates, which has made it difficult to keep up with losses to retirement or employees taking jobs elsewhere.
Also driving overtime costs was guarding inmates or just-arrested people at local hospitals and transporting those facing charges and needing mental-health treatment to Winnebago Mental Health, a five-hour round trip that requires two deputies, Tillman said.
Rounding out the rest of the overtime pay in both counties were the human services departments, public works departments and, in Rock County, the 911 communications center.
Rock County’s remaining overtime pay by department was:
- Human services: $644,903
- Public works: $375,021
- Communications center: $267,076
- Public health: $2,472
- All others: $197,869
Walworth County’s remaining overtime pay by department was:
- Public works: $154,642
- Health and human services: $97,095
- All others: $36,095