(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council and City Hall are playing "Hot Potato" with an old issue.
Union leaders listened hard, as Councilman Lee Harris led a discussion on Paid Time Off for city employees.
"If days off were hypothetically cut in half, does the city save any money," asked Harris.
City Human Resources Director Quintin Robinson revealed the city pays retiring employees $2.5 million per year in leftover sick leave.
"We put together a listing of the various paid leave time elements," stated Robinson.
An old and controversial calculation resurfaced, when Councilman Jim Strickland asked Robinson to confirm if city employees average 55 paid days off per year.
"Have you ever heard that? Is that an accurate statement," queried Strickland.
"We're looking at all of that," stated Robinson.
In 2011, Councilman Kemp Conrad demanded reform over the 55 paid days off.
The unions refute the number.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics show the private sector averages 26.5 annual paid days off.
Tuesday, Councilman Shea Flinn wondered if the city's allowances are too generous.
"If we didn't have this policy, we wouldn't need as many part-time employees to fill gaps," Flinn said.
In additional to overall sick and vacation leave, the following are now under review:
- Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday (city employees already take off MLK Day).
- Three-day funeral leave.
- $800 monthly military supplement.
- 75-day retiree sick leave payout.
- Bonus day for every 90 days employees work six hours without sick leave.
The delicate discussions will continue, after the city crunches more numbers.
The city has a Memorandum of Understanding with local unions on Paid Time Off benefits.
You can expect a hearty fight, if any changes are proposed.