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Grand Jury critiques city vacation policies

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The San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury thinks Paso Robles and Atascadero have too much time on their hands.

In a report released March 2, the Grand Jury concluded that both cities are in major violation of their own employee vacation accumulation policies.

The report, which looked at all of the cities in SLO County, also applauded the cities of Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo for successfully sticking to their policies on accumulated vacation time.

The jury found that more than 40 percent of Paso Robles’ city employees had violated policy, which resulted in an average of 285 hours of vacation time per employee and a $1,647,000 unfunded liability for city coffers. According to city policy, employees should be allowed to collect only 80 to 200 hours of vacation time, depending on their position and years in service.

Jury members found that Atascadero hadn’t enforced its own vacation policy in more than 20 years. According to the report, 116 Atascadero employees had managed to accrue 25,352 hours of sick leave.

Paso Robles City Manager Jim App said the city has more than enough money to cover its liabilities. Should every employee terminate simultaneously, App said the city’s General Fund of $10 million would be more than enough to cover the nearly $1.65 million of vacation payout.

In a statement to New Times, App said the unlimited accrual of vacation time had been the city’s practice for more than 20 years.

“The fact that an older policy states otherwise merely reflects that the written policy has not caught up with established practice,” he said.

The Grand Jury also found Morro Bay has violated its own policies “in some cases.” The report recommended that Paso Robles and Atascadero city officials immediately cease their long-standing practices and review personnel rules. Each city is required to respond to the Grand Jury’s findings and recommendations by May 30.

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