Montgomery County’s highest paid employee last year more than doubled his pay by cashing out thousands of hours of unused sick and vacation pay, an option available to few in the private sector.
Former Montgomery County Coroner’s Office pathologist Lee Lehman retired with 3,000 hours of sick leave and 600 hour of vacation in August to get a check for $193,200. He was then rehired as chief deputy of the office and took a pay cut. His gross pay last year was $374,194.
An I-Team investigation found that accrued sick and vacation leavecould cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars when those public employees cash out unused leave, usually at retirement.
SPECIAL REPORT: Taxpayers on hook for $444M in unused state worker leave
Montgomery County’s total liability for unused employee leave is more than $22 million. The county has six payout policies that differ by agency and union contract. Most employees can accrue up to 3,000 hours of sick leave and 600 hours of vacation. Vacation is paid out based on pay rate at separation; sick leave is paid out at 50 percent, and only if the person is eligible to retire.
Most of the county’s highest paid employees, however, got there without cashing out leave, according to the I-Team searchable payroll database.
Montgomery County’s 10 highest-paid employees last year were:
1. Lee Lehman, chief deputy coroner: $374,194
2. Joe Tuss, county administrator: $197,308
3. Susan Brown, coroner’s office forensic pathologist: $193,328
4. Bryan Casto, coroner’s office forensic fellow: $180,750
5. Robert Shott, coroner’s office forensic pathologist: $175,712
6. Brian Martin, executive director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Council: $175,161
7. Russell Uptegrove, coroner’s office forensic pathologist: $169,812
8. Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of the Mental Health Board: $166,773
9. Thomas Kelley, assistant county administrator and director of Job and Family Services: $163,638
10. Jeffrey Cooper, health commissioner: $159,282