Economy forces look at expenses

Seneca County commissioners last Thursday broached the subject of changing the county’s policy on sick time and vacation buyouts for retiring employees. Tonight, Tiffin City Council members may follow suit.

Mayor Aaron Montz is to ask city council members to review accrual of compensatory time and sick time for city employees during a committee-of-the-whole meeting set for 6:15 p.m.

The opposing sides on this issue are easy to understand.

County and city administrators are concerned about the cost of accrued sick time and vacation that a worker can cash out when retiring.

The county’s sick leave policy now allows a maximum payout of 250 hours, the state minimum. But the maximum 600-hour vacation payout can be reduced.

That means an employee who retires with the maximum allowed for each payout would be eligible for a check equal to nearly half a year’s pay. That could be a difficult expense to manage.

However, many public employees already have taken pay cuts, gone years without a raise or both. Now they face reductions in a benefit. How much more might they be willing to concede before drawing the line?

And speaking of expenses that are difficult to manage, would cuts in sick time, comp time or vacation result in a wave of retirements?

Yet a third point of view could compound this issue, and it belongs to the tax-paying public. Residents fortunate enough to work and get sick days and vacation typically get it on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. Public employees might not get much sympathy from them, much less empathy.

Thus, politics will play a role in how this topic is addressed, but it primarily is an economic issue.