Editorial: County must adjust accrual caps

By default last week, we learned that a county employee who
decided to retire is receiving $111,000 in pay for accrued sick and
vacation time. Even more astounding, however, is that the
revelation underscored the county’s fiscally irresponsible policies
that allowed it to happen.
By default last week, we learned that a county employee who decided to retire is receiving $111,000 in pay for accrued sick and vacation time. Even more astounding, however, is that the revelation underscored the county’s fiscally irresponsible policies that allowed it to happen.

The management employee in the county clerk’s office retired last week, and it came as a surprise to her supervisor, Clerk Joe Paul Gonzalez. In last week’s board meeting, Gonzalez was forced to disclose the dollar amount with the retiring employee, because it forced a transfer of funds that needed the board’s approval.

Though details remain unclear as to how that employee’s accrual compensation is broken down – among sick and vacation time, along with any other leave she may have banked – the discussion brought to light county policies that are largely favorable to the employees and totally out of line with the reality of the private sector.

The prospective cash-outs depend on the employee’s service time and employee group designation. The sick-time cap for all employees is 2,000 hours, while they can cash out half of their balance. Regarding vacation time, sheriff’s association employees and managers have no accrual limits at all, while the general bargaining unit has a more reasonable cap of twice their annual accrual amount, which varies with service time.

Taking it to yet another level of absurdity, the county’s accounting practices for the employees’ accruals are non-existent. How is that possible when there are about 450 county employees and the potential liability can swiftly outpace affordability?

County supervisors broached the idea of setting aside funds for the liability – which should be a given – but they should take it another step further and immediately start serious talks on dramatically adjusting the caps for all employees, limiting the average cash-out to a reasonable amount, and beginning a systematic management approach of ensuring that employees are not taking advantage of the policies.

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