LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Extra Vacation Pay, Other Payments To Mayor's Staff Questioned By Metro Council


The "Wild West." That's how Councilman Kelly Downard described the way his constituents are seeing Metro Hall these days.

"I'm very critical of how this all happened," he said during a council budget oversight committee meeting.

Downard's disturbed about the findings of recent internal city audit that focused on payroll procedures and policies.

Among the audit's findings was that the city skirted its own policies to grant two former high-ranking officials extra payment for unused vacation time. City policy allows retiring employees to receive payment for up to 40 unused vacation days. Officials said that former deputy mayor Rick Johnstone and former finance director Jane Driskell requested and received payment for 60 days. Each received that payment, despite coming out of retirement to help draft the budget.

"These are earned days, accrued vacation days that they earned over the course of time," human resources director Bill Hornig testified.

Hornig said Mayor Jerry Abramson asked his opinion about the request and that he recommended the policy exception in light of the fact that the city was facing a $20 million budget shortfall, and couldn't afford to allow Driskell and Johnstone to take all of their vacation at a time when their expertise was sorely needed.

"This is clearly an exception to our policy, but for very good reason," said Hornig. " We don't have an issue anywhere else, that I'm aware of, where employees lose vacation time because of the fact that they're prohibited from taking vacation."

Some council members were concerned that Hornig never documented his decision in writing, therefore giving the perception that the rules don't apply to Abramson's friends.

"I hope that there's gonna be something in the policies that say: "here's how exceptions are approved, here's who has authority to make them, and here's upon what basis," said Downard.

Hornig said after the meeting that he understood the committee's concerns and would document any future policy exceptions that he approves.

The audit also raised a red flag about a clerical error that led to one out-going employee receiving $27,000 more in compensation than he should have received.

The city's acting chief financial officer said his office has since enacted changes to prevent that kind of error from happening in the future, and that the city is attempting to recoup the money.

"We've taken this as a learning opportunity," said Kevin Moore. " We've certainly learned from it and have implemented additional standard operating procedures in the payroll department...and we've trained people to make sure they process accordingly."

Some Council members also raised concerns about $85,000 in "service time pay" received by Metro Police Chief Robert White. The audit found White had received the payment, but that there weren't reviews in place to be sure it was appropriate.

The mayor's office said White received the money as part of a pre-employment agreement to put $25,000 per year into his pension fund for five years. The money would offset what he lost for leaving a similar post in North Carolina back in 2003