09/05/13 Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin and First Sergeant Neal Wallace appeared at the County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday with a request to allow them to offer employees a chance to get paid for their unused vacation days verses having to take the actual time off.
Wallace said his concern is for scheduling. He said they try to have a minimum of three officers on patrol during each shift but with benefit days it is difficult.
Once an employee qualifies for his vacation time he or she has a year and 3 months to use the benefit or lose it. Wallace explained that they are currently short staff with a retirement and two officers having surgery. Other instances such as sick days, training time and bereavement time make it difficult to keep the shifts full with patrol officers.
Wallace and Chamberlin suggested allowing Sheriff Department employees the option of using their vacation days or being paid for the ones they can’t use instead of losing them. Wallace said he has estimated just over 400 hours of benefit time that need to be covered by between now and the first week of April. He said it would be cheaper to pay the vacation pay at straight time instead of having to pay officers time and a half to overtime to cover the extra shifts.
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said he was concerned allowing the employees in the Sheriff’s Department to be paid for their vacation time would open Pandora’s box. He said, “I could see employees in other departments asking for the same consideration.”
County Auditor Penny Lukenbill told the commissioners that the personnel policy states that an employee cannot be paid for unused benefit time except at the end of their employment. She noted that the employee handbook would have to be changed.
The commissioners asked for two weeks to review the request but noted that funding was not appropriated to cover payment for unused vacation days and it would require an amendment to the personnel policy.