Denham Springs city council halts advance sick leave policy

City employees will no longer be allowed to apply for advance sick leave following the repeal of the city’s policy Monday night.

The Denham Springs City Council voted unanimously to eliminate the policy after the state Legislative Auditor’s Office said it permitted an illegal donation or loan of city funds.

City Attorney Paeton Burkett said the policy was burdensome for the city’s Personnel Department, which had to track the advanced leave time and ensure it was repaid upon the employee’s return to work.

The council’s vote means employees may take only the sick leave hours they have accrued and cannot apply to the City Council for an advance on leave not yet earned.

Mayor Jimmy Durbin said employees will still be able to take advantage of the city’s catastrophic leave fund, which relies on donated annual and sick leave hours for employees who qualify for catastrophic sick leave.

Employees are not required to repay the donated hours they use, and because the hours were earned and donated by an employee, the policy does not run afoul of the state constitution’s prohibition on loans or donations of city funds, Durbin said.

In other business, the council approved the purchase of two new handheld speed guns for the Police Department.

The city will pay $4,990 over a 24-month period for two long-range light detection and ranging lasers, known as LIDAR XLRs.

The Police Department already has one of the long-range speed guns and would like to have two more in operation, Durbin said.

“They are focused on controlling the speed limit in the city, and these two items would help that greatly,” Durbin said before the vote.

The cost was not included in the department’s budget, but city Treasurer Michelle Hood said she is comfortable with the expense.