For the second time since the sick leave controversy surfaced in Clark County, Nevada a firefighter has been fired. The first woman to be promoted to battalion chief in the Clark County Fire Department, Renee Dillingham, is the latest to be terminated. Dillingham had been on the department for 24-years. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, "Dillingham will be allowed to collect her pension and cash in unused sick leave and vacation."
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak is leading the fight to expose the costly scheme by a group of 15 to 20 firefighters.
8 News Now obtained e-mails and calendars that showed fire department employees planned sick days in advance, so co-workers could collect thousands of dollars in overtime, call-back, and retirement pay. The abuse cost taxpayers and resulted in an investigation after it came to light.
"By taking a couple of sick days and a couple of vacation days, you get an entire month off, which is what some individuals unfortunately were doing." Sisolak said.
According to a July 2009 e-mail, Dillingham wrote, "Please do not post the August roster with sick. I have added the other roster for posting, and the sick is for you to take home."
Among other things, Dillingham is accused of creating a "sick time" calendar where other chiefs could sign up to take sick leave several weeks ahead of time.
This is just the county's investigation. A criminal investigation is also underway which could lead to charges for a number of the firefighters accused in the sick leave scandal.
In released emails, Dillingham received an email from Battalion Chief Gina Geldbach-Hall that said: "I will be taking off June 10, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 (all sick days if I can work it out…). Again, thanks. It is so much nicer having a scheduler I can work with."
County officials believe the "SICK" roster was used to work out the use of sick days weeks or months ahead.
In 2010, Dillingham earned $274,309 in total wages and benefits. That included base pay of $93,000, $7,433 in sick-leave and about $29,000 in call-back pay, which is earned when a firefighter is called in to work within 12 hours of their last shift. Call-back pay equals overtime pay of time-and-a-half plus a county contribution to the employee's retirement account.
Also on STATter911 …
- Sick leave ‘abuse’ suddenly drops by 66-percent in Minneapolis FD. See how one fire chief solved problem only days after consultant’s report made newspaper headlines. – July 31, 2012
- Stabbing victim transported in DC fire truck New Year’s Eve. Ambulances & medic units not staffed. Lack of planning & high sick leave use cited. – January 2, 2013
- Buffalo union president admits to decades long practice of firefighters buying & selling overtime. City has asked for state & federal investigation. – November 22, 2011
- Is it fraud or mismanagement? DC Council member asks for another IG investigation following testimony of Chief Ellerbe on mechanics’ overtime. – February 28, 2013
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