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City of Quincy administration and chiefs clash on sick pay buy back policy

1 year, 5 months ago by Bob Gough

Administration wants to stop the benefit, which costs the city more than $500,000 annually

An attempt to change the policy on City of Quincy employees cashing out their sick days is drawing resistance from some department heads.

At Monday night’s Personnel Committee meeting, Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley and Fire Chief Joe Henning characterized the move as a pay cut and said it will lead to more staff turnover and will prevent unionized employees from seeking advancement to non-union management positions.

For years, City of Quincy employees have been able to hoard their sick days and cash them in during the month of December, serving as de facto Christmas bonuses. Mayor Kyle Moore said the practice cost the City more than $500,000 last year, with the non-union employee portion being about $130,000 of that

Moore wants to eliminate the policy for non-union employees. The perk is part of union contracts and would have to be negotiated out.

Copley said out of a $10 million Quincy Police Department budget, $22,000 was for sick pay buy backs, including his own at $4,500. He said losing the benefit had a bigger impact than simply dollars and he suggested cutting his benefit, but leaving it for the other police administrators.

“This is not a value to me,” Copley said of eliminating the benefit to his non-union personnel. “It will create more problems.”

Copley said no sergeant would be willing to move up in rank because losing the benefit by going from a union to non-union position would neutralize the pay increase. He said it would keep people from wanting to join QPD and increase turnover. 

Moore said 65 people applied for the latest opening in the Quincy Police Department.

“There are a lot of people who would like to have city jobs,” Moore said.

Henning said the move would have captains earning $81,000 and deputy chiefs, who out rank them, making $78,000. Moore said there are many administrators in the city who make less than some rank and file employees.

Alderman Steve Duesterhaus (D-2nd Ward) called removing the benefit “theft.” Moore said this happens in the private sector all of the time when companies see drops in revenue. Duesterhaus said the city’s financial situation is not as bad as the administration is letting on.

Personnel Committee Chairman Tony Sassen (R-4th Ward) suggested taking more time to evaluate the situation and he wanted to meet separately with Copley and Henning.

“This is a large vote,” Sassen said. 

One City of Quincy employee attempted to explain his situation to aldermen and administrators in an e-mail.

"..the city actually incurs a greater cost in salary when I am off than when I am on duty.  This past year, I had 2 surgeries but did not use any sick time.  I knew that I would receive a higher buy-back check if I did not use it.  Instead, I used vacation time and exchanged time with coworkers.  If I had no incentive to save my sick time, I would have used the sick time for my surgeries.  This means the city would have paid someone time and half during the time I was off.  Since I used vacation time instead of sick time this actually saved the city money. When my sick time was bought back, it was bought back at straight time ($27.61) instead of at the time and a half ($41.27) rate."

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