Onondaga County audit shows big problem with comp time

The Onondaga County Comptroller's office has released findings of a new audit documenting a significant amount of comp time for county employees.

The office analyzed comp time for all county departments in 2012 and discovered that employees are sitting on thousands of comp time hours that could potentially cost the county quite a bit of money.

If they don't use it, and it's carried to a future year and there's a new contract negotiation or there's a raise given, then that comp time is paid out at a higher rate," said County Comptroller Bob Antonacci. "And that's where we think there's a potential for waste of money."

The Sheriff's Office and IT departments accumulated the most overtime, with more than 28,000 hours combined of comp time in 2012.

Antonacci said some departments are simply not following the policies that outline deadlines for using comp time.

"In IT, there's an individual that has over 1,000 comp hours," said Antonacci. "So for that individual to use those thousand hours, even at 10 hours a week, would take 2 years to use."

Antonacci said the significant number of comp hours might be indicative of a larger problem with employees being overworked or departments being understaffed.

The audit also found that one retiree has been banking comp hours to delay reaching her $30,000 income threshold that would stop monthly pension payments.

"A retiree was using the comp system to defer income earned in the beginning of the year to later in the year, thus being able to collect more on her retirement money," Antonacci explained.

In a statement to CNY Central, CSEA, a union representing many county employees, said: "The county could have cashed in the comp time annually, but chose not to do so. You can't fault the employees for operating within an existing system, and if there is any fault, it's with the county, not the employees."

The Comptroller's office is now working with the Office of the County Executive on the problem. The County Executive's office is asking all department heads to carefully monitor comp time.