Labor attorney to help with vacation buyback flap

Friday, December 31st 2004, 1:29 pm
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) City Council members have agreed to hire a labor attorney to advise them on a controversy involving more than $900,000 in payments to city administrators for unused vacation and sick days.

State and federal officials are investigating payments of $579,500 to City Manager Randy Green since July 1999. Since 2001, the city has given $360,822 in buyback payments to directors of the seven divisions in the city.

The City Council agreed Thursday to hire attorney James Priest of Oklahoma City.

Councilman Greg Rock would not say whether the council will try to recoup money the city paid Green.

``We need to handle the situation,'' Rock said.

Most cities do not buy vacation or sick days until employees quit or are fired.

The city began buying back days from division directors after the McAlester City Council agreed with Green's request in 2001 to give the directors the option of selling extra vacation and sick leave.

City Attorney Wesley Brown said he was not involved with the contracts.

``I'm hired by Randy Green,'' he said. ``I can't represent Randy Green and the City Council.

``'I can't get into anything between the council and the city manager. You stay out of anything if there's conflict.

Brown said he's always stayed out of areas such as drawing up contracts or reviewing job performances.

Green said he could not remember who wrote his original contract, but he thinks it came from a city council member, although he said he could not recall who the council member was.

``Everything in the contracts was mutually agreed on by both parties, budgeted and money appropriated,'' Green said.