ATLANTA - Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher has learned the city of Atlanta has allowed nine employees to receive cash for accrued sick and vacation leave, even though the city appears to forbid such payments.
Some of the beneficiaries are among the highest paid people on the city payroll.
Atlanta’s police chief and the mayor’s deputy chief of staff are two of nine city employees who have been allowed to cash out unused leave time.
There are more than 8,000 employees on the city payroll. Every two weeks they accrue a certain number of hours of sick leave and vacation leave.
They can use it or build it up, but the city code contains clear restrictions. The only time employees can get cash for unused vacation time is when they quit or retire. There is no provision for getting cash for accrued sick leave.
But Mayor Kasim Reed’s office said late Monday that in 2012 the city started approving cash-outs for employees facing extreme hardships and did so because the city code doesn’t say whether the practice is legal or not.
Payout decisions are made by Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard and Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Yancey.
One of the people who has cashed out time and remains on the payroll is Police Chief George Turner. Turner earns $241,000 a year.
The mayor’s office said today that Turner cashed in nearly 617 hours, worth $80,265.
Turner referred all comment to the mayor’s office.
Also approved for the program was Katrina Taylor Parks, who earns a little over $130,000 a year. She cashed out a total of 168 hours, worth $29,466.
On the phone, Parks didn’t dispute the figures but noted that her cash-out provided about half that amount after withholdings.
The mayor’s office emailed Belcher Monday to suggest getting a comment from two council members. But Ivory Lee Young told Belcher via phone that he needs more information before he can comment. Michael Julian Bond did not respond to phone calls.
Belcher will continue digging into the payouts and work to get a response from council members.
Check wsbtv.com and Channel 2 Action News for any developments.