Mole hill or (cash) mountain? How serious is the news of Monterey Park executives cashing out $100,000s in leave time?

46849-scrooge-mcduck-make-it-rain-thumb-278x253-46848.jpg

Is vacation time accrued the same as money earned?

That may be the question of the hour after we learned that Monterey Park’s former City Manager and Police Chief each pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in saved leave time when each left their positions.

Most recently, it was former City Manager and current Glendora top executive Chris Jeffers who took nearly half a million in saved leave time before leaving Monterey Park in 2007.

Some have argued (via the comments section) that this is a mole hill being made into a mountain (a Scrooge McDuck mountain of coin, am I right?!).

There is merit to the argument that if a person doesn’t take their vacation time, they should be allowed to cash it in. They didn’t use it, instead worked and are entitled to the value of that benefit.

But those arguing that in this circumstance may be missing a vital point: Are city executives being given an exceeding large amount of leave time? And is that benefit a backhanded way of giving them additional pay when they are given more leave time then they will ever use?

Racking up a day of vacation each week of employment, as Jeffers was doing in his final year at Monterey Park, and having executives able to earn three months of time off a year seems excessive. Should city department directors, working on the public’s dime, be allowed to take three months off in a year? If the answer is no (as I assume most citizens would agree) then why give them the opportunity?

Finally, Jeffers’ current employer didn’t do themselves any favors in the story about their city manager’s former job.

Two council members didn’t know what Jeffers’ pay was when asked. Mayor Ken Herman seemed to be defending Jeffers’ actions in Monterey Park.

Councilman Terry Kent, in an e-mail to this newspaper, was upset at the way he was portrayed in the paper. Kent was at a wedding out of state and felt that should have been included in the story when describing why he couldn’t recite Jeffers’ salary.

The real question for the council is this: With this knowledge, what will they do?

The council, in the past, has stood by their city manager and often follow his suggestions. But will this force them to examine their city executive contracts for leave time? Or will they follow what Herman seemed to imply in the story that these benefits packages are comparable to other cities and Glendora must offer them to remain competitive in hiring top talent?

Does “because everybody else is doing it” make it right? Or does that mean there is a widespread problem? Answering that is best left to voters.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

  • Mark

    I think one way to fix this while keeping it relatively fair is to have Vacation hours be banked until a person earns a promotion or pay-raise – upon which, it is cashed out at his or her’s previous salary, rather than the current.

    The real problem isn’t how many hours they have banked up, it’s a problem of when they cash in those hours.

    Say you start at a job and are making $45k a year. This roughly translates to $1300 or so a week (depending on marital status, 401k, health etc).

    Now say a year or two goes by and you get promoted. – You’ve worked hard and are now making $60k a year. Cashing out your vacation ours now would allow you to gain a much larger pool of money when you haven’t worked for those hours at the current pay.

    Vacation hours are almost becoming like stock – buy low, sell high.

  • Mark Robers

    I would like to see the data that supports Thomas Himes (the SGV reporter)claim that

    According to data compiled by local city managers to use as a guideline for city manager pay, Jeffers’ total compensation in Glendora was roughly $332,000 a year as of January.

    That amount is well below the median of $372,000 paid to city managers in 14 area cities used in the survey

    Especially since in August (08/02/10) of this year, this very same newspaper did a survey of City Manager annual salaries in the SGV area, and the City of Glendora City Manager was listed at $201,816?

    In that same article, the SGV Tribune columnist stated that City managers in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas make six-digit salaries ranging from $109,000 to $264,999.

    So either the SGV Tribune reporter (Thomas Himes) made a mistake in this article or they made a mistake in the article of 08/02/201.

    Either way I bet you the SGV Tribune wont come on here or anywhere else and admit that they were mistaken nor will they print a correction.

    So typical of the SGV Tribune!

    Here is a link to that article I am refering to.

    Read more: http://www.sgvtribune.com/ci_15659256

  • http://www.sgvtribune.com Daniel Tedford

    Considering I was the reporter who wrote the earlier City Manager story and Thomas Himes sits about eight feet from me, I thought it would be appropriate for me to address your statement.

    It would be wise for your to note that the city manager salary story you reference that I wrote months back is looking at base salaries for city managers. That is their annual pay, sans benefits.

    The report Mr. Himes is referring to is a survey of city managers that includes benefits and their value in dollar form. That includes vacation, health care, car allowance, etc. Hence the words “total compensation” vs. “base salary.”

    In summary, your hypothesis that either Tom or I is incorrect is in error. You forgot to include yourself.