Officials walk away, get payouts (September 1, 2000)
council questions severance packages
By Christofer Machniak, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Two City Council members are raising questions over severance packages that exceeded more than $50,000 each for two top officials who left in July.
But city officials say they were only following a precedent the council set in 1997 that allowed a former city clerk to collect more than $78,000.
The questions center on how much unused vacation and sick time officials can receive when they leave the city.
The maximum normally observed for unused vacation time is 320 hours, but both David H. Ready, former city administrator, and Reginald Richardson, former housing commission director, signed agreements allowing them to collect more.
Sixth Ward City Councilman Mark A Horrigan asked the administration on Monday to explain the policy at a future meeting. He said appointed officials are salaried and shouldn’t receive payments for unused sick and vacation time.
Ready, who began work as city manager of Palm Springs, Calif., in June after more than eight years in Flint, was paid for about 434 hours of unused vacation time and 480 hours of unused sick time, totaling more than $40,000. His hourly rate was $38.27.
He also used 320 hours of additional vacation from the time he left the city on June 6 until he officially resigned July 28, which allowed him to accrue additional vacation and sick time and earn more retirement benefits. Richardson, who retired in July in the wake of two sexual harassment lawsuits against him, was paid for 918.5 hours in unused vacation time, totaling more than $31,000. His hourly rate was $34.49. With vacation and retirement benefits, his effective payout topped $50,000.
One lawsuit, involving Swanzetta Wilson, has been settled in which the city paid $4,000. The other, involving Deborah Pellens, is set for trial in September. The city and housing commission no longer are defendants in that case.
City officials say there is a precedent for the payments to Ready and Richardson. Louis Hawkins, former city clerk, was paid for more than 1,600 hours of vacation time when he left in 1997.
Hawkins was paid for 712 hours for time he was allowed to accrue, the maximum for employees who started before 1978. In addition, the council got Hawkins an additional 963 hours because it asked Hawkins to forgo vacation to perform work.
The hours added up to more than $78,000.
I just want them to look at the facts before casting stones and casting doubts, said Tony Morolla, the city’s personnel and labor relations director.
Ready, reached by telephone in California, said he took less than two weeks of vacation yearly because of city problems, ranging from water billing and new computer software to a brain drain caused by early retirements.
There were so many hours I couldn’t take, Ready said.
The workload did not, would not permit me to be gone, out of the office a month out of the year.
Ninth Ward Councilman Scott Kincaid said he doesn’t want to deny any benefit due a city employee, but he wonders if the city can accurately monitor if top officials legitimately use vacation and sick time.
Kincaid also raised questions this year after James Makokha, former governmental policy director, was paid in February for 480 hours of sick time totaling more than $18,000.
Makokha hadn’t worked since September 1997 in connection with a bribery-related scandal, and he eventually pleaded guilty, but he remained on the payroll until Dec. 31, 1999.
Questions also were asked shortly after Marc Puckett, former finance director, resigned in February 1999. Puckett, who left after it was revealed his department failed to make pension transfers for almost two years despite warnings from auditors, was paid an additional $6,000 for unused vacation time.
Some city employees criticized the payments, especially in the wake of $11.6 million in budget cuts that included about 100 layoffs.
I don’t think it’s right for people to get laid off, but the administration is granting special agreements for appointed officials, said one employee who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.
Christofer Machniak can be reached at (810) 766-6304 or [email protected].
Copyright Flint Journal / MLive Media Group (mlive.com). Used with permission.
Files dealing with Marc Puckett
- 19920114 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920225 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920303 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920305 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920319 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920623 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19960111 Retirement firm accuses official of favoritism
- 19960403 Folks soaked by water bills may get relief
- 19960920 Marc Puckett’s red light ticket
- 19990130 $9-million pension fund transfer raises questions
- 19990202 Retirement panel urges ‘immediate’ audit of plan
- 19990203 Retirement board splits over need for independent manager
- 19990203 Finance director resigns under fire of pension flap
- 19990210 Former finance director lashes back at critics, hints suit
- 19990224 Flint to boost pension fund
- 19990319 Flint sent tax funds to wrong units
- 19990326 Ex-finance director cashes in on $6,000 in unused vacation time
- 19990330 Flint could owe state millions some industrial facilities taxes have not been paid since 1996
- 19990408 Stanley acts on money woes, appoints new finance chief
- 19990411 Stanley must share blame as part of his plan to fix city’s financial woes
- 19990909 Audit details shortfalls in financial procedures
- 20100219 Personal injury complaint against Marc Puckett
- 20100408 Answer of defendant, Marc R. Puckett, to plaintiffs’ complaint
- 20101227 New finance director to step down
- 20101228 Marc Puckett out — Again
- 20101230 Leadership turmoil
- 20110104 The world according to John Moorlach
- 20110110 City faces $231,000 deficit
- 20110113 Interim finance director named
- 20110210 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 201102405 Marc Puckett’s ticket for stopping on a red signal
- 20110817 Marc Puckett’s ticket for no license plate
- 20120309 Marc Puckett’s Orange County accident case information
- 20120425 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20120703 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20140724 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20141124 Marc Puckett’s ticket for coasting out of gear
- 20141205 Marc Puckett’s ticket for speeding
- 20150529 Marc Puckett’s ticket for improper use of preferred lane
- Comments for tonight’s council meeting
- The innumerate Mr. Puckett
- Shill crazy after all these years
- Earth to Puckett!
- About those awards
- One PRR story: American Express (CC)
- 20160913 Documents link top Apple Valley official to #FlintWaterCrisis
- 20160913 Investigation: Flint / Apple Valley Connection
- 20160915 Economic Speech (Trump)
- 20161018 Will Apple Valley become California’s Flint, MI?
- 20170319 Trump EPA grants Michigan $100 million to fix Flint water system
- 20170320 Sinkhole: Effort to replace pipes to Flint homes off to slow start
- 20170806 Vehicle belonging to AV town manager involved in hit-and-run
- He’s gonna need a good lawyer
- 20170809 Apple Valley official believes Liberty could have followed him before crash
- Public trust destroyed (Carloni)
- 20170907 Hit-and-run investigation involving Marc Puckett’s Cadillac sent to DA
- 20171010 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- A question of character
- 20171206 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett charged with felony hit-and-run
- 20171206 A long wait for crash victim
- 20171117 A history of infractions
- 20171207 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett on personal leave after felony hit-and-run charge filed
- 20171214 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett pleads not guilty to felony hit-and-run charge
- 20171214 I-15 crash victim seeks $2M in damages from Apple Valley
- 20171219 Editorial: Passing the Puck (Valles)
- 20171228 Town Hall position not a factor in Puckett’s custody status, attorney says
- 20180105 Puckett forced out as Apple Valley’s Assistant Manager & Finance Director
- 20180109 Tin Cup Men (Valles)
- 20180116 Puckett’s dismissal just what the town needed (Valles)
- 20180307 Puckett deposition set for mid-April in town’s eminent domain case
- 20180425 Pre-plea report ordered in Puckett’s felony case