Saturday, March 3, 2012

San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury report shows Atascadero & Paso Robles employees racking up vacation, sick time

Posted: Mar 2, 2012 5:42 PM by Nancy Chen
Updated: Mar 2, 2012 7:17 PM

A San Luis Obispo County grand jury report released Thursday has found Atascadero and Paso Robles in violation of employee vacation policies.

The grand jury is in charge of investigating how the county's local governments are run. In this report, titled "Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later: City Employee Vacation and Sick Leave Accumulation Pay," jurors examined all seven cities in the county, looking at each employee's records. That was to decide if excessive, unused vacation time could become a liability if everyone quit and cashed out at once.

The report covered Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Atascadero but had the most concerns about Paso Robles and Atascadero.

It says Paso Robles now has nearly $1.6 million worth of accrued vacation because of employees not taking time off like they're supposed to. The report says about 40 percent of employees exceed the maximum vacation allowed to be saved up..

However, the city manager of Paso Robles, Jim App, wrote in an email to KSBY News that the grand jury misunderstands accumulated vacation. He says it is not a liability because accumulated vacation is paid out when an employee leaves the city. He added vacant positions stay open for at least three months, saving the city in the end.

Atascadero also caught the jury's attention because the city has nearly $900,000 in unfunded liability. The report wrote, "The city of Atascadero has admittedly and blatantly violated its own policies on vacation time for more than 20 years."

Atascadero Mayor Bob Kelley says he became aware of the unfunded liabilities last fall and is working together with city staff to see what changes, if any, they'll make.

"That's the way the business is running," he said. "It's like any business, you look at it, and hey, I found something here that hasn't been going smoothly. We'll fix it. I don't turn the pages backward. I try to turn the pages forward."

The report also found the Cities of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo to have managed their vacation time well.

All cities have until May 30th to respond to the findings.

Click to read the report

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