October 24, 2014

Elyria
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Commissioner’s proposal to reduce sick time payout has little support

ELYRIA – Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams found little support Wednesday for his proposal to change how the county pays out departing workers for their unused sick time.

Workers hired before Nov. 15, 2005 are allowed to cash out up to 1,000 hours of unused sick leave, while those hired after that date can cash out up to 250 hours.

Williams wants the county to adopt the state’s minimum standards that calls for workers to be paid out for no more than 240 hours of unused sick time, but in order to get to the 240 hours workers would have to accumulate four times as many hours.

Williams said that over the past five years the county has paid out roughly $1.5 million worth of unused sick time to workers who left county government. Had the county had that policy in place, he said, the figure would have dropped to around $300,000.

CountyAdministrator Jim Cordes called Williams’ proposal a “raw deal” for employees.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said that the county has already reduced benefits to its workers by increasing their contribution to their health insurance, eliminating paid breaks, freezing wages and extending work hours for supervisors.

“Nobody’s getting rich here,” she said.

Williams has pushed to reform sick leave payouts in the wake of an $18,080 payout made to retired county Auditor Mark Stewart, who returned to county employment for four hours in April before resigning and cashing in 1,000 hours worth of sick leave he had accumulated before he made the transition from county employee to elected official.

The county has since determined that Stewart was considered a new employee when he took the job reviewing files for the countyBoard of Revision in April and was only entitled to be paid for 250 unused sick hours. Stewart is refunding the county $13,560 he was overpaid, most of which he had placed in a deferred compensation program.

Cordes said while other departments and elected officials may allow for employees to retire, cash out sick and vacation balances, and then return to their jobs, a practice known as double-dipping, the commissioners have never allowed anyone to do that. The commissioners had no control over the Stewart payout, he said, because it came from a fund controlled entirely by Stewart’s successor, countyAuditor Craig Snodgrass.

Cordes also said that there are numerous other areas of state law that affect employee vacation and sick hours that the county could adopt, including one that allows workers to cash out up to two weeks of unused vacation time each year at their full rate of pay. The county allows workers to cash out unused vacation time, but only pays out 50 cents for every dollar.

“Do we just adopt the more draconian policies that they have?” Cordes said.

Commissioner Ted Kalo said that the people who accumulate the most sick and vacation time tend to be the most dedicated workers. If they can’t get paid for it, he said, they might just begin taking it, which could lead to staffing shortages that could require overtime from other workers.

Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said he has accumulated approximately 2,500 hours of unused sick time during his tenure at the county. He also said that the pay rates for prosecutors are so low that his office routinely loses good people to higher paying jobs.

He also said he was tired of being vilified as a welfare recipient just because he works in county government.

Kokoski and Kalo said they are willing to look at the changing the policy, but only if it affects new hires and only if the county reviews the full state standards on sick and vacation leave.

After the meeting, Williams insisted he isn’t against the county workers, saying he was doing his job.

He said the commissioners need to show the public they’re trying to conserve money if they expect voters to pass a 0.5 percent sales tax increase coupled with a rollback on property taxes, on the November ballot. Failure to pass the sales tax hike could mean extensive cuts in county government, the commissioners have said.

“If the sales tax fails it’s going to get ugly and I’m just trying to save the taxpayers money,” Williams said.

 Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.


  • GreatRedeemer

    Its done all the time in the private sector. Darn time that its done in the public sector. Of course the 2 Dems wont be for it though. By the way Issue 1 does not stand a chance because this is how the county is spending the taxpayers money.

    • Bill

      Yep. It’s only going to get worse if the sheep in this county continue to vote for the D behind the name instead of the right person for the job. Having Lundy as a commissioner will take us right back to the days of the 3 ring circus of Kalo, Kokoski and Blair.
      Tom Williams has worked very hard to reduce the waste in this county only to be fought tooth and nail by the childish antics of Kalo and Kokoski.

    • Denise Caruloff

      yep..i was going to support ..but no fricken way now. greedy…you earn vacation time and accru sick time if one is so fortunate to get it.

  • Beth Horne Crossan

    I support it and I think you will have a very hard time passing any tax increase as long as this wasteful policy remains in place. Why are we paying more than the state, WAY more, when we have no money?

  • tickmeoff

    If I worked for the county I know who I would vote for.And his initials are not T.W.
    As to saving money, it might look good on paper, but when you figure over the long run what would go into overtime, it would be a wash. Leave it as it is and thank the lord you don’t work in private industry!

    • John Boy

      You’ve been on the government payroll for too long. Come take a wiff of reality and work in the private sector and you see all of your benefits shrinking, time for the government benefits to shrink as well.

  • Beentheredonethat

    Sick leave is for when you are sick, not a paid vacation! As for private industry I don’t think many places allow you to accumulate so many hours!
    Sorry but times are changing, tax levies are failing, and the taxpayers are tired of being taken for a ride!

  • oldruss

    It seems odd to me that the private business sector has limits on both sick time and vacation time, usually “use it or lose it”. Somehow all those private businesses manage to remain fully staffed, and are conscious of their bottom lines. Why should public employees, paid by the taxpayers, get outrageous employee benefits just because they are public employees? Keep the county workers happy, and they’ll keep voting Democrat, must be the overriding rationale for Kokoski and Kalo.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Innes has accumulated MORE THAN a year worth of sick time? If you get 40 hours a year, that means he has been working for MORE THAN 60 years! Of course we know he hasn’t, so the question is, just how much sick time do they get every year?

    Sick time should be something you use WHEN YOU ARE SICK. It shouldn’t be a paid-out perk for retirement. The county is STEALING from the taxpayers. ARREST these thieves today!

  • david j moore

    If anyone wonders why a bipartisan group of Lorain County business leaders, and public leaders are working on a more representative form of government, these type of issues do nothing but help our cause. Taking 3 commissioners at 78k full benefits to 7 commissioners at 33k and only PRS no Health, will help us all with people who want to represent their area, and not themselves

  • JoyceEarly

    Kokoski and Kalo are worried about the impact on the employees yet they answer to the taxpayers. Their focus should be what is best for the taxpayers. We elect them to represent us and do what’s best and most cost effective. It technically isn’t a raw deal for the employees. Sick time shouldn’t be a cash windfall but a benefit used for its intended purpose or it’s wiped off the books. That time is there for emergencies. It shouldn’t be viewed as owed to the employees. That’s a ridiculous sentiment. An entitlement mentality with no proof of entitlement. My employer gives me a $250.00 bonus for perfect attendance. I’ve never used even a minute of sick time. My sick bank only lasts the year I work, then starts over for the next year. I think this is totally fair. I look forward to that $250.00! I believe county employees take advantage of this system knowing they can cash out and screw the taxpayers. Somebody has to be watching the store. Williams as proved time and time again he represents the taxpayers. Let’s see if we can get at least one of the K’s out of there!

  • bigmacky

    of course he has little support – its a nice “bonus” to the good old boy network when they retire. Any change to that will be met with a swift and decisive NO – until of course the ones who say no, can get what they think they so deserve.

  • stop ur whining

    use it or lose it. that is how it goes for the rest of us.

  • Denise Caruloff

    NO TO THE TAX LEVY ON THE BALLOT IN NOVMEBER…THEY HAVE MADE THEIR BED..THEY SHOULD HAVE TO BE THE ONES TO FIX IT. mongers Thanks tom for saying what needs to be said.

    • Tom Williams

      The county still needs to pass the sales tax levy with property tax reduction in order to pay for the services that county needs.
      The county has some great employees that are dedicated to their jobs. They didn’t create the benefits they have or prevent changes from taking place.
      The issue falls at the feet of the elected officials. I would ask you to support issue 1, then look at replacing elected officials who waste taxpayer dollars

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        Shut it down! Vote NO until the current elected officials and their ilk eliminate the waste.

  • No_Excuse_For_This

    I’m not going to lump this together with Issue 1. Here’s the language for that:
    The Board of County Commissioners of Lorain County proposes an increase in the rate of the sales and use tax in the amount of ½ of 1% for the purpose of providing additional general revenues for Lorain County for a 3 year time period and the Board concurrently suspends the collection of the real property inside millage from 1.6 mills to 0.2 mill for tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015 upon passage of said sales tax increase.
    Shall the ½% increase in the rate of the Sales and Use Tax be approved?

    I sure would like to get that big of a break on my real estate taxes, and start having all the renters share in the costs of running the county, wouldn’t you?

  • TheOriginalFactChecker

    IF
    anyone is willing to think this through, you will find that this
    system of sick leave accumulation is beneficial to the tax payer
    because it saves money. Let’s do an example: A 911
    dispatcher normally works 2000 hours a year (50 weeks X 40), and
    earns 120 hours of sick leave (15 days). For our example let’s say
    rate of pay is $12/hr..

    Example
    1: If this 911 dispatcher is under the weather but comes to work, she
    earns her regular pay and keeps 8 hours of sick leave. Net result is
    regular pay and the possibility of cashing in 1/4th
    of that 8 hours on retirement. Unless something happens later,
    compensation from the County for that day is regular pay ($12) plus
    possibly 1/4th
    of regular pay($3) if sick leave is later used later. Total $15/ hr
    to the County.

    Example
    2: The next day, the dispatcher calls in sick. She is paid for the
    day by using 8 hours of sick leave ($12/hr). Another dispatcher
    works a double to cover. She’s paid at time and ½, ($18) but
    accumulates no additional sick leave.

    After
    2 days, the 1st
    dispatcher used a little more than ½ of her monthly sick leave,
    meaning half of the accumulated $3 from day one is gone. First day
    cost to county stands at $13.50/hr.. On day two, the first
    dispatcher uses sick leave and is paid $12/hr.. The 2nd
    dispatcher earns $18/hr.. Total cost to the County on day two is
    $30/hr..

    Net
    Result: With the incentive of possibly getting paid for ¼ of unused
    sick leave, day one cost the County $13.50 per hour. IF there was no
    incentive, to be paid for ¼ of unused sick leave, every absence
    would be like day two, and cost $30 per hour. Simple math: every
    time that little incentive causes some worker to tough it out, the
    County saves $16.50 per hour. So what costs the County less, a
    possible $3.50 payout in the future, or an immediate $30.00 actual
    payout.

    • Tom Williams

      The current policy pays out an hour for hour. I would like it to go to the State standard that pays 1/4 payout.

    • John Boy

      What if the same worker comes to work sick and causes their co-workers to become sick and so on down the road? If you’re sick you should use the sick time to stop the potential of spread of your illness. Most illness is spread by co-workers. If you’re not sick you don’t use the benefit. It’s a simple as that.
      120 hours of sick leave is an outrageous benefit and should be reduced.

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        “120 hours of sick leave is an outrageous benefit…”

        ABSOLUTELY! Three weeks of sick leave every year? Do you all live in Bizarro World? The county and county employees are STEALING from the taxpayers.

    • GreatRedeemer

      A alternative answer similar to what the private sector does, would be to make sure that there is sufficient part time non benefit earning staff to cover full time employee’s sick days. This then results in no double time, no overtime and the public is taken care of.

      With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, government should be hiring many more part time employees without benefits. This is good for the taxpayers.

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      Three weeks of sick time every year is STEALING from the taxpayers. How dare you try to justify it. I haven’t been sick three weeks over the past 20 years. THIS IS AN ABUSE!