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Council votes to end comp time for city employees

It took a vote from Cairo Mayor Bobby Burns Monday night to break a 2-2 tie on a motion to eliminate compensatory time for city employees effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas offered a motion to adopt a policy eliminating comp time and his motion was seconded by Councilman Lannis Thornton.
Douglas and Thornton voted to adopt the new policy and Councilman Kermit Gilliard voted in opposition. Councilman Ernest Cloud voiced his intention to abstain.
“Why?” Mayor Bobby Burns asked. “Do you have a personal conflict?”
“No, I just think we need more time to consider and should not take action on this tonight,” Cloud said.
The mayor instructed City Clerk Carolyn Lee to record a “no” vote for Cloud. “It’s 2-2 and I vote in favor of eliminating comp time,” the mayor said and Douglas’ motion passed 3-2. Councilman Bobby Gwaltney was absent Monday night.
Based on the new policy, city employees who have earned comp time and have not used it prior to Dec. 31, 2015 will have three years from Jan. 1, 2016 to use the time or lose it.
The policy also dictates that employees will be required to take comp time in lieu of using accrued annual leave for an authorized absence. If an employee is promoted to a position that was exempt previously from earning comp time, all accrued comp time will be paid prior to the effective date of the promotion. The policy also stipulates that upon separation, employees will be paid for their accumulated comp time up to the allowed maximum amount according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees will be paid at the current rate or the average rate of the last three years of employment, whichever is higher. Those are the only to exceptions that allow for payment of comp time.
As of Oct. 31, 2015, city employees have accrued 8,408 hours of comp time valued at $135,022.11.
The majority of the accrued comp time is for the police and fire departments, according to city manager Chris Addleton, with the police department accounting for 45 percent of the total followed by the fire department with nearly 30 percent.
Accrued amounts of comp time varies from zero hours all the way up to the maximum allowable of 480 hours.
According to city records, two city policemen, Calvin D. Pearson and Dwight H. Patten, both have 480 hours of accrued comp time. Other officers who have earned large numbers of comp time include Shanan Y. Lang – 288.50; Gerald P. Donaldson – 257.50; Karen A. Cromartie – 255.50; and Richard G. Wade – 250.00.
In the Fire Department, Brad Cosby has accrued 419 hours of comp time followed by Willard Barfield – 346.25; Stephen McKinnon – 281.75; Rusty E. Powe – 281.00; Anthony M. Bell – 241.50; Joshie King Jr., – 237.25; Lucas Ladner – 236.00; Bruce Gurley – 235; and Daniel Dusty Sheffield – 224.25.
Other city employees who have accrued comp time in the triple digits are: Paul Davis, streets and sidewalks – 170.00; Joseph Cooper, sewer lift station and treatment – 185.50; Willie A. Teal, water and sewer construction – 123.00; Joshua Andrews, electric distribution – 108.75; Clay Strickland, solid waste disposal – 160.25; Michael T. Calloway, solid waste collection – 133.00; and Larry Howard, solid waste collection – 137.50.
There was no discussion of the new policy Monday night, but in previous meetings Councilman Douglas was vocal in his opposition to the city’s comp time policy.
Douglas said in his opinion some departments are manipulating overtime and using comp time to reflect less overtime expense than is actually being used.
City manager Addleton previously stated, “I don’t think we have people abusing comp time, and it is a management tool to spread costs over time. However, it would be a lot easier to pay overtime and not worry about comp time, too.”

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