City officials are working on a corrective action plan following release of a state audit that found city officials and employees were paid $28,270 for leave time that was not supported by contract or resolution.
The audit by the state Comptroller’s Office, which examined the city’s financial operations from Jan. 1, 2008, to Jan. 31, 2010, revealed that more than $3,200 was improperly paid to then-Mayor Tim Hughes during 2008 and 2009 and more than $5,200 wrongly paid to then-City Attorney John Clo during 2008.
“City officials and employees were paid for leave time they were not entitled to, and they did not always earn employee leave according to their corresponding benefits authorized by the city,” the audit said. “This resulted from inadequate internal controls over certain city payroll functions.”
The city payroll clerk is responsible for maintaining leave records and interpreting collective bargaining agreements and contracts when crediting an employee’s leave. But the audit found that city officials provided no oversight of these records or payments made for leave accrual buyouts during this time, resulting in excessive buyouts given to former prominent city officials.
A former police chief was overpaid by $13,609 for 2008 and 2009, according to calculations based on Resolution 11-98 guidelines, which covers employees and city officials who are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement or contract.
Clo, former city attorney, sold unauthorized leave accruals back to the city in 2008 totaling $5,260, even though, as a part-time city official, he was not entitled to any.
“In addition, the city attorney did not maintain time records, which made it impossible to determine how he could have earned any leave, had it been authorized,” the audit said. “City officials could not find any records to support the buyout paid in 2008.”
The city overpaid former transportation manager Al Schutz by $4,838 in 2008 and 2009. Resolution 11-98 limited him to a buyout only worth 80 hours of vacation and 120 hours of sick leave. But the audit revealed he sold 124 vacation hours and 281 sick leave hours in 2008 and 120 vacation hours in 2009.
The city paid Hughes a total of $3,232 during 2008 and 2009 for accrued leave, despite the rule of thumb that the elected office does not offer accrued leave time. Hughes also requested $10,000 in additional accrued leave payments upon leaving office, which the City Council rejected.
“The mayor is an elected officer controlling his/her own work schedule,” the audit read. “Therefore, since the mayor can take as much or as little time off as he/she deems appropriate, he/she is not entitled to accrue leave time.”
The state Comptroller’s Office recommended the city oversee earned time records to ensure that employees are given accurate leave accrual payments. In addition, it recommended city officials establish control procedures to ensure any buyouts are in accordance with collective bargaining agreements or City Council enactments.
“The lack of accurate leave records that agree to benefits authorized by city contracts and resolutions can result in further benefits and payments that are not in compliance with city policies,” the audit read.
Mayor Dayton King and Commissioner of Finance Bruce Van Genderen could not be reached Wednesday.
King signed a directive to city department heads a few months ago, stating that he and Van Genderen need to sign all payments, other than regular weekly paychecks, to city employees not represented by unions.
In addition, all payments to bargaining unit members, other than regular weekly pay, need to be approved by Van Genderen, King wrote in a July 7 letter to the state Comptroller’s Office.
Auditors examined a total of 40 buyout payments made during 2008 and 2009 for accrued leave, which included the largest payments made to city officials not covered by collective bargaining agreements. To determine the leave benefits employees and officials were entitled to, auditors reviewed city policies, board minutes, the city personnel policy manual, collective bargaining agreements, board resolutions and personal contracts.
They also examined the city’s payroll function to determine how accrued leave was accounted for and who was responsible for determining the accuracy of the records.
Categories: Schenectady County