Tag Archives: bonuses

Comptroller Questions Easter Egg Bonuses, Other Utility District Doings

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Around Easter, some employees at the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities received Easter eggs with notes inside, informing them that they would be receiving special bonuses. Bonuses were also routinely doled out around other holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July – or, for some of the more favored employees – almost weekly.
The problem? The utility’s former superintendent didn’t have board approval to distribute nearly $300,000 in ratepayer money for bonuses from 2008 through 2011. And that was just one of many issues investigators from the Comptroller’s office found during a recent review of the utility’s practices.
Employees sometimes received bonuses for doing routine parts of their jobs, such as reporting water theft or scouting possible water intake sites along the river. Some employees received overtime pay even when they didn’t work extra hours. Employees also received bonuses through random drawings and marble handouts. One employee received a bonus for “adultery watch,” which apparently involved monitoring another employee during work hours.
Findings of the investigation, which were released today, document that the former superintendent also gave more than $13,000 in water adjustments – essentially, discounts on water bills and new water taps – to utility board members, employees and some customers. Nearly $4,000 of those adjustments were granted to volunteer firefighters who attended annual dinners held to foster good will between the utility and local fire departments. The rest of the adjustments were given at the former superintendent’s discretion.
The investigation also revealed that board members were overpaid more than $12,000 for attending board meetings, work sessions and “road trips.” And the former superintendent and former office manager made more than $10,000 worth of questionable credit card charges to the district, including more than $5,000 for meals for employees who were not traveling or conducting official business.
“Ratepayer money is public money, just as taxpayer money is,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “It is inexcusable for public officials to distribute or spend public money for unauthorized bonuses, water bill discounts or travel and purchases that do not serve work-related purposes. I hope the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities will take appropriate steps to ensure that these types of abuses don’t occur in the future.”
To view the Comptroller’s report online, go to: http://comptroller.tn.gov/la/SpecialReports.asp
To view scanned images and photographs related to the investigation, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/CA/2012/lcbpupictures.pdf

Duncan III, Employees to Refund $40,000 in Bonuses

Knox County Trustee John Duncan III and a half dozen of his employees have agreed to pay back more than $40,000 in incentive payments for participating in a government-related program that they never completed, reports Mike Donila.
Duncan told the News Sentinel on Monday he hasn’t resolved all the details, but some of his workers will ma one-time payments for as much as $6,000 and others “may need extra time to make monthly installments.”
“I believe returning the payments will erase any concerns some may have about our intentions to serve the peop of Knox County with the utmost integrity and respect for their hard-earned tax dollars,” he said in a released statement.
The announcement came late Monday, several hours after he met with Commissioner R. Larry Smith who had asked Knox County Commission last week to look into the bonuses.
“I was real pleased,” said Smith. “I still want to talk about some of the other issues that are out there, and I think there are things that the taxpayers need to know, like who gets to take the class and how they’re paid. But the discussion (at next Tuesday’s commission meeting) isn’t going to be nearly as long.”
The trustee first gave himself and six other employees each a $3,000 education bonus — most of it tied to the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Services, or CTAS, program — in December 2010, three months after taking office. None of the employees were certified.

Duncan Paying Certification Bonuses to the Uncertified (including himself)

Knox County Trustee John Duncan III has given himself and other employees in his office a $3,000 bonus authorized by state law for earning accreditation as a certified public administrator. But Mike Donila reports that Duncan and the others in his office are not certified public administrators – though they have attended classes designed to aPchieve that status.
Other county fee office officials gave workers similar rewards this year and last year, but Duncan is the only one to give the incentive payments to employees who have not graduated from the training program. And, he said, he intends to give the money to his employees next year, too, if they are still in the program — regardless of whether they are officially certified.
“I feel like if they show reasonable diligence in pursuing the program, then they should be rewarded for it,” said Duncan, who earns almost $107,000 a year in salary. “I have no problem at all rewarding people who are taking initiative and trying to improve their knowledge of the county and better serve the taxpayer.”

DesJarlais Bill Would Block Bonuses for Food Stamp Signups

News release from Rep. Scott DesJarlais
WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) announced that “Stop Rewarding States for Recruiting Additional Food Stamp Recipients” was the winner of last week’s YouCut program. The congressman is now in the process of drafting legislation that will prevent the federal government from issuing bonuses to states for signing up additional food stamp recipients.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) pays state governments bonuses – with taxpayer dollars – for recruiting additional people to sign up for food stamps. Each year, states with the highest percentage of eligible participants enroll in the program and split $12 million in bonus funds. Additionally, the department awards another $6 million in bonus money to states that are the fastest at signing up new program applicants.
Eliminating this program will at least to $180 million dollars over ten years.
“The fact that our government rewards states for recruiting individuals to be on food stamps is not just wasteful, it is ridiculous,” said Representative Scott DesJarlais. “Why does the federal government need to incentivize states to spend taxpayer dollars with more taxpayer dollars? Government at all levels should strive to spend funds as efficiently as possible without the need for additional taxpayer funded bonuses.”
“I want to thank my constituents for taking time to participate in the YouCut program. I’m of the firm belief that the solutions to our nation’s problems will be uncovered by directly involving the American people in the legislative process. Programs like YouCut give us another way to listen to the individuals that we represent so that we can bring their voices to Washington,” noted DesJarlais.
· As of August, 2011, nearly 46 million Americans were on food stamps, or 15 percent of the population.
· Benefit costs were over $71 billion between September of 2010 and August of 2011.
· Program participation has grown steadily since the economic downturn began, and increased by 8 percent in 2011.
Individuals can track the progress of this legislation on the YouCut Web site: http://majorityleader.gov/YouCut/

Note: This was approved as a cutting option over a U.S. Forest Service program said to include Smokey the Bear, Most recent prior post HERE.

Departing Congressmen Paid Staff Bonuses Before Leaving

Tennessee’s four outgoing House members paid staffers a total of $210,520 during their final two days in office, joining figures compiled by the wattchdog group LegiStorm and reported by the Tennessean.
Murfreesboro Democrat Bart Gordon, who retired from Congress, gave $83,547 in bonuses to 17 staffers immediately before he retired in January. That put him at No. 8 and the only Tennessee lawmaker ranked in the top 10 among the 93 House members who retired in January or were voted out of office, LegiStorm found.
During the last three months of 2010, when many lawmakers paid yearly bonuses, Gordon’s entire staff payroll went up by just $1,066, LegiStorm data show. Gordon said that’s because he waited until the last possible moment to issue the bonuses that he said made up for the “lowball” salaries he paid earlier in the year.
He learned not to pay too much too soon after his first year in office, when he exceeded his budget and had to pay overages out of pocket, he said.

Lincoln Davis, who lost to Republican Scott DesJarlais in November, paid staffers a total of $62,234 during the first two days of January. The Pall Mall Democrat also spent $30,148 more on salaries in the last three months of 2010 than he spent, on average, during the first three quarters of 2010.
Union City Democrat John Tanner paid $48,959 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s in addition to the $42,456 pay bump he gave during the final quarter of last year.
Zach Wamp, the Chattanooga Republican who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor, paid $15,780 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s on top of the nearly $103,000 pay bump he gave staffers during the final quarter of last year.