Sick leave buy back under fire - Tucson News Now

Sick leave buy back under fire

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

With the city of Tucson facing a $27 million shortfall, some tough choices have to be made between now and June when a final budget is adopted.

There will be layoffs, positions eliminated and service cuts.

But the one which will likely get the most resistance is a suggestion being made by Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik. to save $2.6 million.

He's suggesting the city eliminate the sick leave buy back program afforded to police and fire.

Numbers given to News 13 by the city manager's office show the top recipient of the program is Tucson's police chief, Roberto Villasenor.

For 208 hours of accrued sick time, he was paid $16,129 on top of his $160,000 salary.

The fire chief, Jim Critchley was paid $15,072, also added to his $154,000 salary.

There were nearly 100 police and fire fighters who were paid $7,000 or more by selling back their accrued sick time.

Here's the entire list.

Hundreds of others were paid less but thousands of dollars is not uncommon.

"There's some real inequality going on," Kozachik says.

He says the city is talking about raising bus fares on people who make less than many public safety officers take home in the buy back program.

"Go ahead and accrue your sick time and keep accruing it in case you have a catastrophic injury or illness," he says. "But don't use it as a seven thousand or ten thousand dollar Christmas turkey at the end of the year."

Assistant city manager Kelly Gottschalk says at this time the city manager's office will not recommend it as a budget balancing measure.

"It all comes down to mayor and council," she says. "They can make changes with four votes."

But getting those votes will likely be difficult.

"When the city manager tells us we have a $27 million deficit, our job is finding ways to trim that down without cutting services," Kozachik says.

Chief Villasenor says the buy back is not a perk. It's a necessity to make sure Tucson can recruit and retain public safety personnel in a competitive market.

It's long been noted Tucson loses officers to higher paying jurisdictions, especially to the Phoenix area.

However, Scottsdale does not have the sick leave buy back program.

But Kozachik wants to have the conversation, win or lose.

"We can't go on writing those checks," he says.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • New Orleans sits atop an ancient barrier island

    New Orleans sits atop an ancient barrier island

    To the casual observer, this looks like any other section of marsh. However, this spot in extreme Eastern New Orleans-- almost at the St. Tammany Parish line-- is unique. 

    To the casual observer, this looks like any other section of marsh. However, this spot in extreme Eastern New Orleans-- almost at the St. Tammany Parish line-- is unique. 

  • Deadly virus threatens local crawfish industry

    Deadly virus threatens local crawfish industry

    Tuesday, May 23 2017 7:26 PM EDT2017-05-23 23:26:19 GMT

    A deadly virus is threatening the crawfish industry in Southwest Louisiana. It's called white spot syndrome virus and it was first discovered in Thailand, but somehow it made its way to ponds in South Louisiana and specialists are struggling to find the funds to research a solution.  “The catch was increasing and increasing and then it dropped 70% and that's when you saw the dead crawfish floating in the water,” said a crawfish farmer of 34 years, Ian Garbarino. He...

    A deadly virus is threatening the crawfish industry in Southwest Louisiana. It's called white spot syndrome virus and it was first discovered in Thailand, but somehow it made its way to ponds in South Louisiana and specialists are struggling to find the funds to research a solution.  “The catch was increasing and increasing and then it dropped 70% and that's when you saw the dead crawfish floating in the water,” said a crawfish farmer of 34 years, Ian Garbarino. He...

  • breaking

    Teens charged in Kingston Frazier's death to appear in court Monday

    Teens charged in Kingston Frazier's death to appear in court Monday

    Monday, May 22 2017 3:33 PM EDT2017-05-22 19:33:58 GMT

    19-year-old Byron McBride, 18-year-old DeAllen Washington and 18-year-old Dwan Diondro Wakefield have all been arrested in the slaying of the child.

    19-year-old Byron McBride, 18-year-old DeAllen Washington and 18-year-old Dwan Diondro Wakefield have all been arrested in the slaying of the child.

Powered by Frankly