The city could reduce salary costs by hiring more employees as opposed to paying overtime, according to City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

The controller based his assertion on his office's review of five city agencies - the Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Managing Director's Office, Records Department, and Water Department - and the 26 employees within those agencies who earned the most overtime last year.

"Our findings determined that collectively, the agencies could have saved more than $700,000 in 2013 if they had additional staff to work the shifts rather than paying overtime," Butkovitz said.

In one instance, salary, benefits, and overtime for a veteran counselor in the Department of Human Services cost the city $220,000, where a new employee would have cost only $58,000, Butkovitz said.

A key expense, he said, is the unfunded pension liabilities the city faces for employees hired before Oct. 2, 1992, when pension changes were enacted for new hires.

In all, the departments in the review paid out $195.8 million in overtime in 2013, a 16 percent increase since 2011, when $168.4 million was spent.

While the controller's report found that most reasons given by the departments for needing overtime "appeared reasonable," it questioned the appropriateness of $164,123 in extra pay run up by six dispatchers assigned to the Managing Director's Unified Dispatch Unit.

Butkovitz, citing criticism from sources he would not disclose, has labeled the system a "City Hall hotline for the well-connected."

Mark McDonald, spokesman for Nutter, called Butkovitz's assertion "laughable."

He said the unit is a long-standing communication network to enable city and court administrators to reach one another quickly at all hours when a critical situation or issue arises.

Butkovitz, when pressed Wednesday, declined to reveal the sources for his assertion. "I'll reveal my sources when you reveal your sources," the controller told reporters.