Skip to content

Comp time for city workers may soon be eliminated

Soon, City of Cairo employees may no longer be eligible to earn compensatory time or, at a minimum, they will be allowed to accumulate much less than currently allowed.
The Cairo mayor and council got a first look at a proposed new policy governing compensatory time, commonly referred to as “comp time” at their regular meeting Monday night.
“This new policy better defines the maximum hours allowed,” Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton told city councilmen Monday night. Under the existing policy, city employees are allowed to accumulate a maximum of 240 hours and, according to the city manager, the total for public safety personnel was 480 hours.
However, under the new policy recommended by the city manager and Human Resources Director Carolyn Robinson, the maximum allowed would be 80 hours for city employees and 160 hours for public safety personnel.
Addleton said the policy was crafted after researching best practices of other Georgia Municipal Association cities and in consultation with labor attorneys with the Elabee Thompson Law Firm.
The city manager said the new policy will allow the city to better account for comp time and determine when it is to be used. The new policy also clearly defines when pay outs for comp time will be made.
According to Addleton, employees will be paid for unused comp time at separation or when promoted from an hourly employee to a salaried employee.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas, who chairs the council’s finance committee, told his fellow councilmen his preference would be to eliminate comp time all together.
“The simplest thing to do is to do away with it. All we’re doing is creating a way not to have overtime and to keep it from showing up on the overtime report,” Douglas said.
Addleton said that eliminating comp time is an option, but he said having it as a management tool allowed the city to balance out expenses.
“It’s just deferring a problem,” Douglas contends.
The city manager said that 80 hours for regular employees and 160 hours for public safety personnel is not a large amount of time.
“There are only 20 employees out of 150 who would be over that limit currently. There’s not a lot of comp time out there,” Addleton said.
Douglas maintained that his recommendation would be to eliminate comp time. He said the current city policy has “created a monster,” and he said the new policy “just reduces the monster we’ve got.”
Councilman Ernest Cloud asked what would happen to the comp time accumulated by city workers in excess of the new maximums included in the proposed policy. According to Addleton, the employees would be given a three-year period in which to take their accumulated comp time off to get below the proposed maximums.
Councilman Kermit Gilliard questioned who is responsible for tracking comp time, and Addleton said that currently timekeepers for each department are responsible, but only recently has the city manager instructed timekeepers to submit regular reports to the human resources director.
“Why don’t we try it without it and see how it goes?” suggested Mayor Bobby Burns.
“I’m don’t think we have people abusing comp time, and it is a management tool to spread costs out over time. However, it would be a lot easier to pay overtime and not worry about comp time, too,” Addleton said.
Councilman Douglas said that, in his opinion, some departments are manipulating overtime and using comp time to reflect less overtime expense than is actually being used.
Douglas offered a motion to table the proposed policy and requested the city manager bring back a policy eliminating comp time, The council would then have two options to consider at the next meeting. Douglas also requested a tally of the amount of comp time owed and the dollar value of the accrued comp time. The council unanimously approved Douglas’ motion.
In related business, Councilman Doulgas also requested a more detailed accounting for overtime expenses in the city police department for “special events.” Douglas said, “We need to get a handle on this.”

Leave a Comment