03/09/05 — City may change policy to allow earlier retirement

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City may change policy to allow earlier retirement

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 9, 2005 1:52 PM

The Goldsboro City Council is considering changes to the city's personnel policy that would allow some employees to retire earlier than expected.

If the revisions are passed, some city employees would be allowed to convert unused vacation days to sick leave. Those days can be credited toward retirement.

It would also be possible to work through the full retirement date and then receive credit for the extra months of service.

Human Resources Director Rick Roberson briefed the council Monday night on the proposed first major update of the personnel manual since 1981. Some of the changes will reflect current policies and procedures.

One of the major changes suggested by Roberson would allow city employees to transfer all annual leave over 240 hours (30 days) to their sick leave accounts.

Currently, employees can only carry over 240 hours of annual leave from year to year. They lose any excess hours.

In contrast, there's no limit to the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated and eventually used as creditable service in the retirement system. Every 160 hours equals one month.

Councilmen Chuck Allen and Bob Waller both questioned the wisdom of allowing the transfers. "No business would do that," Allen said.

But City Manager Joe Huffman said that it is a fairly standard practice for local governments and a perk for both the employee and employer.

The policy tends to encourage people to be at work, Huffman said. "It would be a good recruitment tool."

The city is also considering allowing new employees to transfer in sick-leave days from other governmental agencies, another increasingly common practice, city officials said.

Goldsboro's refusal to accept those days has made it harder to fill some jobs, Roberson said. It was one factor in a year-long vacancy at the water plant.

The council was also asked to permit employees to use sick leave when they are forced to miss work because of sickness or injury involving their children, spouses or close family members. Currently, employees have to use some of their annual leave or take days off without pay in such emergencies.

The city has had a policy that required many employees to take at least five consecutive days of annual leave a year. The revised policy would encourage employees to do so, but it would no longer be a requirement for most.

The city may also prohibit any current employee from running for the council, although they'd still be free to seek other elective office.

"We have too many city employees on the board now," Allen joked.

He didn't name them, but Mayor Al King is a former director of the city's personnel department, Councilman Jackie Warrick was the city's police chief and Councilman Don Chatman was director of the city Planning Department.

The council could act on the personnel changes at its March 21 meeting.