Erie County legislators unanimously approved a measure Thursday to prevent county administrators from collecting vacation and personal time payouts if they leave county service after being charged with serious crimes or violating county policies.
The measure was prompted by the $19,452 payout to former Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger for what he was owed in unused vacation and comp time. Dirschberger was charged in January with allegedly raping a county employee while attending a work-related Albany conference in early December.
He was pressured to resign as social services commissioner in December after County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz became aware of the Albany Police investigation. His county payout amounted to more than $10,000 after taxes and other withholdings.
"It doesn't make sense to give a payout to people when they left their jobs due to unsavory circumstances," Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, C-West Seneca, said.
The resolution prevents such payouts unless a former administrator accused of serious misconduct is legally vindicated. The proposal was submitted by the Republican-supported minority and gained support from the Democratic majority after the resolution was amended to say that payouts would be prohibited "to the extent permitted by applicable law and collective bargaining agreements."
County administrators said Wednesday that county employees are legally entitled to collect unused vacation and personal time that they have accrued, regardless of their reasons for leaving county service. White collar union contract provisions also provide most of the same rights and benefits to full-time, non-union administrators.
The measure adopted by the Legislature asks that the county executive provide new language that, going forward, will prevent these non-union administrators from having the rights that union employees have to cash out their compensatory and vacation time under any circumstances.