Atascadero management violating personnel rules

June 7, 2011

Wade McKinney


Atascadero employees are breaking rules that limit the amount of vacation accrual leaving the city with a $553,000 unfunded liability, according to city finance documents.

City personnel rules, set in place to protect the city from financial liability, make department heads responsible for ensuring vacation policies are enforced. However, the greatest violators of the rules include city manager Wade McKinney and about a dozen executive city employees.

Out of 125 Atascadero employees, 25 have racked up more than a half million dollars in vacation accrual at a time the city reported a $1.9 million annual budget deficit.

While the personnel rules say the “city’s intent is to have employees take annual vacations,” it allows employees to accumulate up to two times their yearly vacation time. In violation of that policy, McKinney and his assistant Marcia Torgerson have accrued more than 1,500 hours, leaving the city responsible for a $144,679 payout, according to an informal audit performed by former mayor Mike Brennler.

Even though city personnel rules limit one recreation supervisor to 320 hours of vacation accrual, she currently has 1,945 hours with a payout of $67,674 upon retirement. McKinney leads the pack with $89,766 in vacation accrual

“These violations are an affront to the citizens of Atascadero as well as the other 100 city employees who abide by the rules,” Brennler said. “What example is being set by their managers and the city council who tolerate such abuse?”

After being confronted at a city council meeting by Brennler, McKinney said the city began allowing the accruals because, at the time, the city did not have the funds to pay vacation time.

Brennler argues that McKinney’s statement is deceptive and untrue. He noted that these improper accruals have been in place for more than a decade.

Several city officials either refused to comment or did not return requests for comment.

Cities set vacation accrual limits to stop employees from banking hours for years while their hourly wages increase along with the value of their accrued vacation time. In addition, management staff bank their vacation hours while taking time off using their administrative leave.

Facing staggering deficits, many U.S. cities are reviewing rules allowing for the banking of vacation hours. For example, the city council in Naperville, Ill., with a population of approximately 145,000 people, recently voted to phase out vacation time accrual.

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Questions I ask myself:

1. How do smart people keep appointing Wade McKinney to his position? A: They aren’t smart!

2. How do A-town voters keep voting in the same old city council members? A: They get kick-backs & perks of some kind.

3. When are the citizens of this town going to wake up and smell the coffee and remove ALL of those who have EVER in ANY way been associated with Kelly Gearhart? A: When hell freezes over.

Why should we, we really enjoy reading your comments especially when you admit that your town has big problems also. How could that be? A: Just happens.

What I don’t understand is why the employees are being made to sacrifice their benefits.

Employees (not talking about management and administration, which often don’t have experience the same benefit cutbacks as the regular worker) don’t make budgetary or management decisions, and they don’t decide how the employer (or employer’s personnel resource, such as CalPERS) invests resources.

For instance, CalPERS is looking at a huge shortfall largely because the previous management of the investment services committed fraud.

It should be the administration and management who sacrifice their benefits.

I know the Atascadero situation is different, but, still, in this case, if the department heads/managers (including McKinney) were the ones that were negligent in monitoring the vacation time enforcement. Let THEM give up their benefits and take pay reductions or, better yet, fire them (and don’t let them take their vacation time, sick time, and severance pay with them.

Future politicians should keep in touch with common people instead of being above and shielded from them (perhaps in fear).

I have seen former Mayor Romero unofficially in various businesses and walking home alone in the streets of SLO Farmer’s Market, I have seen him politely admonished city council members on cable for purposing excessive and needless regulations.

To me Romero was not only tangent and very open to (anyone) the common touch.

“To Walk Among Kings but Not Lose The Common Touch, British Poet: Ruyard Kipling”

SLO City Mrg uses one way media through King Harris, County Supervisor request Sheriff security because …, and the Sheriff go into silence and mystique when he has no answers and do nothing!

How can we “We The People” get rid of these actors more easily, this is the primary or major flaw in the system!

Jimmy Carter: Delay is defeat.

This is so sickening, why is it so easy for a priviledged class of people to easily get a circumcision issue on the ballot and it being next to impossible to get a recall on a public official.

Somewhere along the line, the power that be “interpret” the Constitution to suit them and not the people, we have been screwd from the Genesis’s

Wade McKinney tricked everybody into believing that he and the staff took a 3% pay cut to save the citizens money and they exchanged it for an extra 96 hours of administrative leave, calling the extra 12 days off with pay a need to maintain employee morale. Figure it out, they actually got a 4.6% raise that they hid by accruing vacation pay that they will get paid for while they used the free Admin Leave as vacation. We have a stupid City Council. They need to step up and clean up or get out. I’m all for making certain that we don’t allow these losers to represent us any longer.

I don’t think the entire City Council is stupid. Unfortunately, as in Brennler’s case, it takes 3 on the Council to make a decision. O’Malley and Clay have been there forever (too long) and are the ones that made these decisions and passed them. The new guy is just a puppet for O’Malley and Fonzi. Since the last election it does seem that the city has turned some very negative things around and has produced a new “image” for the business community and trying to be friendly. Although if I recall correctly I don’t think that the Fire Department or Police Department endorsed Kelly during the last election. Maybe he is on to them but can’t get the support needed to do the right thing.

Kelly has been pushing for a business friendly image for years, complete with a method to achieve it. I believe if we could get Mike B and Len C on the council with Kelly, we could turn this around. I don’t mind Fonzi, I’ve always thought she did a good job and was analytical rather than lop sided, as is Kelly. Her husband is another story, he was such a shill for the ABA and the FD, that it was nauseating and also, I can’t imagine sitting Roberta and Brennler next to each other, but who knows, times change. I think the four of them could do a bang up job for us.

If you go to the Atascadero website and look at their MOU that was approved at the June 9, 2009 CC Meeting, you will see Wade & Staff received an additional 62 hours and not 96. To elaborate: the average full-time employee works 2080 hours per year. 62 is 3 % of 2080 hours. It calculates to be about 7.75 furlough (unpaid) days in a year. They also get “free” admin leave because they don’t get paid overtime and most work over 2080 hours in a year. I’ve driven by cityhall and there has been cars as late as 10pm. It should also be noted that all these public servants max out at the Step E, so after 5 years the vacation payout is probabley still at the same hourly rate. But yeah they should get these people to use their vacation. Where I work we stop earning vacation when hit the ceiling. One of my coworkers takes 4 hours Vacation every Friday to keep him under.

I’ve lived in Atrashcadero since 1989 and it seems we always have problems here. I think it is time to give the city manager and friends the boot. Hard to believe he makes so much money every year, and not really doing a very good job if we are 1.9 million in the hole. Does he still get a bonus and a raise? His salary should be based on our losses. We’d get some line item veto’s I’m sure.

And where the council came up with the idea that we are a destination I will never know. Okay, so what, we have a new theater in town. Most towns have movie theaters. Prices too high to go to it. I have a great idea, let the city manager donate his sick leave pay to the senior citizens in town. We can’t afford cacapoopoo. Going to the show is a thrill for us. My heart can take it, show me the money.

And you know what I will take it with a smile on my face. I have donated enough to you all ready. Now you want to take more money from us. I am not crying I am bitching. Oh well, God loves us. Maybe this year Soc. Sec. will give us a raise. At least enough to go to the show, although I doubt it.

Maybe I will put my app. in for city manager. We are praying for this town.

Well here we go again on the Atascadero merry go round. I will save the rehash which we all already know about A-Town. So in keeping it simple I have only one question. When is the F.B.I. going to ride into town, lasso up some of these hombre’s and strart charging them with some possible crimes?

dont hold your breath about FBI in regard to council, maybe FEMA maybe not. i watch council meetings and none of them look worried when brennler gets up and speaks.

In the real world; of private employment anyway, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Plain and simple. Same rules should apply here. They should lose anything they believe they have been accruing fraudulently. No mystery, they just don’t have what they thought they did, because they were being dishonest.

You CANNOT take away earned vacation (“lose it”). The Supreme Court has ruled on this, and further, vacation payouts MUST be applied towards retirement (search for “Ventura Decision”).

Vacation accruals MUST be paid out sooner or later–the best thing to do is impose a cap and pay overages sooner.

The best thing to do is to STOP with all the free “Administrative Leave” and make then take their

f-ing vacation.

Here! Here!

This is “actually” why every city and state in the US is in a fiscal emergency or verge of bankrupsy.

Odd, no one has a solution, just the same old managed kicking of the can down the road.

That seems to be all anyone can do!

And so the feds are preparing legislation to allow states to file bankrupsy.

Good luck all.

SLORider, It is true that an Employee can not lose earned vacation pay (use it or lose it) like they can lose sick pay but they can be made to take their annual vacation. The hours that are being accrued in this case are unheard of in the private sector and even in most public sectors. The problem is that these Employees have too much time off so as to be able to cash out vacation pay while taking time off under other types of leave that is afforded them such as the 96 hours of administrative leave they received after forgoing a cost of living raise.

Also, time off at city hall is considered time worked so an Employee who takes a Monday off and works on a Saturday or then works 4-10 hour days receives over time as if they had actually worked 40 hours. The city has us taxpayers coming and going with all these perks and management is more than happy to set the pace. This can not be allowed to continue, McKinney has 16 weeks of annual paid time off, the Administrative leave has got to STOP.

The City seems to be able to establish regulations and policies affecting the public and enforcing with a heavy hand but it seems they don’t know how to develop or implement a working policy for staff. This is easy: you accural “X” amount of vacation per year, you can have no more than two years at the end of each calendar year, and anything over that is paid off, NO EXCEPTIONS for anyone. You all realize that paying it off now is better now than down the road when pay raises will once again start to raise. Paying the employee at the current pay rate is better than accural at a higher rate 5 years later. Makes no sense unless you are McKinney and you just played a winner hand on the Council. Just goes to show us why this town has always had financial problems, our Council is either incompetent or in on this game… Either way, the taxpayers lose! I think the bigger question should be if the employees don’t take all this extra time off, maybe they don’t need 12 sick days per year, 15-18 average days per year, 12 administrative days equalling approximately 39 days per year unless you are McKinney who gets double that… What a scam to the taxpayers. Give them all 15 days per year – includes sick, vacation, admin and then use it or get paid for it.

Mike Brennler for Atascadero City Council , I wish he would run again, I know we wouldn’t put up with the wacko’s that caused so much havoc the last time he got elected.

Good Bye Good Old Boy’s, HELLO MIKE.

I never thought I’d agree w/a statement like that but I do. After years of these kind of scandals, A-town needs a guy like Brennler to come in and stir things up, like he did during his term.

I used to be a die-hard O’Malley & Clay fan (I know, I know…) until listening to them respond to Brennler’s comments at council meetings. They have been evasive and condescending. There ARE issues they want hidden and they just don’t want Brennler coming in and pulling back the curtain.

Thanks to CCN for reporting about this but it would be nice if other media outlets got in and dug around, too.

I dont think he would run again( health reasons) if you attend or watch meetings on tv , he gets very red in the face when he doesnt get his way or gets what he gave as mayor . the man has a temper issue and that can lead to possible heart problems or make existing problems worse. he doesnt realize that they are playing him like a fiddle. if he’s got the” smoking gun” bring it on….. but i doubt it.

It’s not that they don’t take vacation time off. They all have weeks of administrative leave. The last time they agreed not to take a cost of living raise, they all gave themselves a couple of weeks in administrative leave in lieu of the raise. In the long run, this cost us far more than a little raise.

It doesn’t get much better than working for the city of A-Town, it appears that they are always looking for the next loophole to scam the taxpayers.