MFPD attendance incentive program working as intended, board told

Hilmer glad to see ’05 reform reaping dividends for district

By Mike Anthony

A program designed to reward Mehlville Fire Protection District employees for perfect attendance is working as intended, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

Bond told the Board of Directors last week that perfect attendance bonuses totaling $76,000 were paid to employees during July.

“… This is the highest amount that we’ve paid in the past two years, indicating the time off for nonservice sick leave has decreased,” he said. “And the great thing about that is it does allow the district to see a reduction in unscheduled overtime costs.

“So the program is accomplishing what it’s intending to accomplish …,” Bond added.

Revamping the district’s sick-leave policy in an effort to reduce overtime costs was among early cost-cutting measures board Chairman Aaron Hilmer and Treasurer Bonnie Stegman instituted after they first were elected in April 2005.

When Hilmer and Stegman first took office, 24-hour district employees received 16 days per year of sick leave. Roughly a month later, the district’s sick-leave policy was changed to allow 24-hour employees eight days of sick leave per year.

If the days aren’t used, employees are eligible to receive a total bonus of $1,600 per year. Bonuses of up to $800 are awarded twice a year for perfect attendance. The amount decreases by $400 for every sick day used. However, if an employee is suspended or fired, the bonus is forfeited.

Also, when an employee takes a sick day, those hours not worked do not count for that week, meaning he or she is not paid overtime unless the employee actually works overtime.

In addition, Hilmer and Stegman capped the number of sick days employees could accumulate at 60.

The board agreed to pay sick leave accrued to that point, but would no longer pay for future unused sick leave.

During fiscal 2011, the district reduced its liability for accrued sick leave by $1,487,347 — to $897,897 from $2,385,244. The accrued sick-leave liability was reduced through attrition and a $1.1 million payout to employees.

Hilmer told the Call he is pleased the program is working as intended.

“I am glad to see that one of the reforms Bonnie and I put in place in 2005 is reaping dividends, though the change at that time was quite controversial,” he said.