The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) released an investigative report revealing that Palisades Park paid tens of thousands of dollars each year to employees who had unused sick leave, directly in violation of state laws. Senator Declan O’Scanlon, who sent a letter to Comptroller Kevin Walsh imploring him to conduct an investigation into the allegations of malfeasance, commended the OSC for its meticulous report.
The Office of the State Comptroller released an investigative report revealing that Palisades Park paid tens of thousands of dollars each year to employees who had unused sick leave, violating state law. Sen. Declan O’Scanlon commended the Comptroller’s office for its meticulous report. (SenateNJ.com)
“Not long ago, an investigative journalist working for Gannett newspapers and partnering with ProPublica, notified me that some public employees seemed to still be receiving sick leave payouts on an annual basis and in excess of the $15,000 cap, despite the enactment of legislation to correct this expensive problem,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “It is now clear from the Comptroller’s report that the leadership in Palisades Park blatantly ignored New Jersey’s written laws and made annual costly payouts to town employees for years. This is not only unlawful behavior but it is, quite frankly, immoral. Taxpayers should not be forced to continue to endure ever-increasing tax burdens just so exorbitant benefits may be paid to public employees.”
In the past, sick leave payouts for New Jersey’s public employees reached an unsustainable level, placing an extreme burden on taxpayers and leading to the enactment of P.L.2010, c.3. That law places a $15,000 cap on sick leave payouts for public employees and prohibits those payouts from being provided at any time other than at an employee’s retirement.
The investigative report issued by the State Comptroller found that, for many employees, the sick leave was used as a method for increasing employee compensation, rather than for legitimate illness that required time off. This was best illustrated in 2018, when Palisades Park paid over $109,000 to 27 employees who, under the 2010 law, should not have received the sick leave payouts. Similarly, in 2019, the Borough improperly paid over $95,000 to 22 employees.
The OSC report also highlighted the current contract for the Palisades Park Business Administrator. According to the agreement, if the current Business Administrator were to retire or be terminated, that individual would be paid at least $360,000 in compensation for “all accrued and accumulated sick, personal, severance and vacation time”—directly in violation of New Jersey state law.
“The amount of waste and fraud that occurred in the case of Palisades Park is shocking and disgraceful,” added O’Scanlon. “I am grateful to Comptroller Walsh for his cooperation and I am glad that his office was able to uncover the truth and hold people accountable. The people of New Jersey should never again have to experience such reprehensible behavior.”
If you have any tips of suspected government mismanagement or fraud, you can always report them anonymously to Office of the State Comptroller by calling 1-855-OSC-TIPS (1-855-672-8744) or by emailing email@example.com.