Winnebago County Employees Amount $800,000 in Excess Unpaid Vacation Time

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Some Winnebago County departments and employees are not following policy and it's costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen charged some of his administration with the task of completely reviewing all county policies three years ago but it wasn't until now when the county's vacation time policy was reviewed.

When people resign from county jobs policy says they are supposed to get paid for what vacation time they don't use. County board member Gary Jury and his Operations and Administrative Committee say the problem for is a lot of Winnebago County employees have been saving more vacation time then they should.

"Somebody has to be accountable and that's what I'm going to try and find out... how this policy was abused," says Jury, who represents the county's 7th district.

The current policy was created in the late eighties and states that workers are only allowed to save up to two year's worth of paid vacation days before the days go away.

"We have to get this corrected and we will," says Jury.

He says a group of more than 150 county employees have not been following that policy and they've saved enough excessive days collectively to cost the us more than $800,000. The top eight employees on the list accruing nearly $400,000 in excess unpaid vacation days on their own.

"This has been the culture so to speak over the last couple decades," says board member John F. Sweeney who represents the county's 16th district. "Certain caps for carry over of vacation time wasn't followed the way it was supposed to be."

If those employees were to resign today the county would have to cut them a check for un-paid vacation time, including the excess days they should not have been allowed to save up in the first place according to Jury.

Jury says the biggest violator has saved over $100,000.

"The rules and the policies of the county are going to be complied with and now that we're onto it we're going to fix it," says Sweeney. "It'll be fixed"

"The tax payer needs to get rid of this burden over their head," says Jury.

The problem now is the board isn't sure if they can take away the excess days that have already been saved up by employees, so tax payers may still be on the hook when it's time to pay out what some board members are calling an unofficial retirement plan.

Jury tells us what these employees have done is not illegal but unfair to tax payers. The county board is right now looking to make changes to vacation day policies however it's still early on in the process.

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