Monday, March 26, 2012

North Canton’s Personnel Regulations & Policies Fail to Protect Taxpayers

Prepared Comments Made to
March 26, 2012

Most of us have the understanding, whether one works in the public sector or the private sector, that vacation days must be accrued before they can be taken. To be voted on tonight, titled as Ordinance 24-12, is an ordinance amending Chapter 155 of the City’s Personnel Regulations, which will allow the taking of vacation days without the requirement of accrual.

I am curious as to what has prompted this change in vacation policy and if this change has come about for political expediency.

In recent weeks after securing payroll records of an employee recently hired by the City, I found that the employee has taken all their personal days allowed for the year, all their sick leave allowed for the hours worked and the one vacation day they had accrued on the job. Even with the sick time, personal days, and vacation time taken, the employee lost several days of work due to the need for major surgery.

The changes proposed in Ordinance 24-12, would have allowed this new employee to use their ten days of vacation to cover their lost work days even though they had been on the job for only a few weeks.

This begs the question. Does the City require a pre-employment physical before hiring an individual for employment and are political appointees made promises as to the availability of medical benefits for known major health problems before they are hired?

In recent weeks, I have received two frantic calls from Mayor David Held asking me who is revealing this information. The source of the information is not relevant. But information available says that the new employee was unable to physically perform all the duties of the position from the first day of their employment and has had to undergo major surgery. Mayor Held himself has acknowledged to me that the employee did indeed have major surgery and was later readmitted to the hospital shortly after the surgery due to complications.

If this information is true, what kind of financial hit does the City’s self-insured health insurance plan take with major claims such as was apparently required in this situation? It is, after all, the taxpayers you are asking to foot the bill for an individual who begins their employment with the City, allegedly, needing very expensive surgery and unable to perform the duties of the position from the outset.

Hiring individuals needing major surgery drives up the City’s healthcare costs and jeopardizes the availability of healthcare for all other individuals covered under North Canton’s self-insured health benefits plan.

Are North Canton’s personnel regulations and policies protecting the taxpayers of the City? North Canton must implement common sense personnel policies in the recruitment, screening, and hiring of city employees and political appointees to minimize the risks to the city and to protect taxpayers.

I ask this council to vote down Ordinance 24-12 as it only serves to facilitate manipulation of personnel actions.

As recommended to me by the Stark County Prosecutor’s office, I urge this council to ask that the FBI be contacted, as was done recently in Canton, to investigate the events surrounding the recent employment of this individual.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton