City pays millions in 'sick leave' cash out - KMOV.com

City pays millions in 'sick leave' cash out

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Some St. Louis city employees are retiring with hefty paychecks - tens of thousands of dollars above their regular pay.  The money is coming from unused sick days that the city has exchanged for cash.  Now, some city leaders are pushing for an overhaul.

In just two years this perk has cost the city more than $2 million in a time when money is scarce.  A copy of the list of city retirees for the last two years reveals a staggering amount of unused sick pay turned into cash.

A man in Mayor Slay's office, who accumulated sick leave in the building division, walked away with almost $68,000.  An electrician left with more than $15,000.  And, an airport police officer got $30,000 when he retired.

The city has since retired the plan, but it is still paying out employees who were grandfathered into the plan.  The sick leave "buy back" plan was enacted as an incentive in 1998 when cash was flowing more freely, but private businesses don't operate this way, and some aldermen say it has hurt city residents.

"We see all kinds of cuts being made to programs that actually help people -- folks expecting these city services, relying on these city services and they're being drastically cut.  Meanwhile, we're maintaining these programs that we just can't afford," Alderman Antonio French, 21st Ward, says.  "I think it's gotten beyond what it was intended for, and it's shocking to most taxpayers."

The same goes for vacation time.  City employees may roll over as many as 600 hours.  That translates to 75 days.  However, the mayor has eliminated vacation buyback for his own employees.

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