The Mt. Juliet News reported in a story on September 3rd about an action taken by the Mt. Juliet City Commission at their meeting on Monday, August 25th.
At the prompting of their City Manager, the City Commission voted 4-1 to halt what city leaders described as a “tremendously liberal leave policy.”
According to City Manager Randy Robertson, implementing this new vacation leave policy will in the long run save the tax payers a lot of money.
The only way to describe the simple-minded actions of the City Commission and the recommendations of the City Manager on this topic is that they are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
In fact, the new policy will not save the taxpayers any money at all. We should have suspected their math skills after this year’s budget debacle, but City Manager Robertson and the City Commission have once again demonstrated that they are innumerate.
Before the change to the policy, employees were credited with 2, 3, or 4 vacation weeks per year, depending upon their length of service with the city. After the change to the policy, employees are still going to be credited with 2, 3, or 4 vacation weeks per year, depending upon their length of service with the city. The only difference being how much total leave time they are able to accumulate. There is now a cap of 10 weeks. If an employee’s total earned vacation time would exceed 10 weeks at the end of a calendar year, then they lose the amount in excess of 10 weeks.
How will this save the city any money? Any savings are illusory.
Imagine you have a teen-ager and tell him or her that you’re going to give her (or him) a clothing allowance of $100/month by depositing that amount into a bank account. BUT, at the end of the year any money in the account over $250 they will forfeit. Will this save you any money in the long run?
The City Manager and the City Commission appear to be incapable of understanding the consequences of this new policy. One consequence I can confidently predict – employees are NOT going to forfeit any vacation time. Faced with a choice of use it or lose it, employees will make the rational decision to use their vacation time.
The only scenario that the city will no longer face is a hard-working, faithful employee who has taken fewer days than he (or she) had earned, being paid for their vacation days when they retire. They will now have all of their senior employees, mostly department heads, taking their four weeks of vacation every year rather than lose that benefit.
With 13 senior employees already at the level where they earn 4 weeks of vacation each year, the city has just lost the services of a senior employee for a full year. The police chief will be gone for a month; The public works director will be gone for a month; The city recorder will be gone for a month. It is an illusion to think that this saves the city any money in the long run.
To put it another way, suppose a city has 12 senior building inspectors who each perform 100 inspections a month, and there are 1200 inspections that need to be performed each month. If each of the building inspectors takes a 4-week vacation each year, then the city will need to hire 1 additional building inspector – NOW. And that extra building inspector will need to be paid along with the original 12 each year. If, however, the building inspectors choose to accumulate their leave for 10-12 years, then the city will need to hire an extra building inspector only when each of them retires. The city is going to have to pay for the same number of building inspectors for the same number of months under either scenario. There is no money saved by hiring an extra building inspector now, rather than paying for an extra one later.
But there may be some serious downside to the city if they lose a month of productivity from their senior employees each year now, out of a misguided “use it or lose it” strategy.
The city commission and the city manager are flat out wrong in their description of what this new policy will accomplish. It will not save the city any money – in fact, its immediate effect has been to cost the city $158,000.
Sounds to us like somebody just got sour grapes and a case of envy because a faithful employee, who worked for many years without taking much of the vacation they were entitled to is now taking the vacation days that they earned over the years by dedicated service to the city.
The new policy is an un-necessary annoyance to employees. It takes away a choice they previously had. It doesn’t save the city any money, but we’re guessing that it makes the City Manager and the City Commission feel good because they appear to be doing something.
But the citizens of Mt. Juliet ought to be disgusted at the incompetence of the management of the city.
And the Mt. Juliet News is wrong in their editorial. It’s not “sound fiscal policy.”