News Story

Flint Paid City Workers To Stay Home

One staffer collected nearly $20,000 last year to be on standby

The city of Flint has paid more than 100 employees $857,663 over a three-year period – to stay home. The staffers are paid for being on call and available should they be needed at work.

The practice is referred to as standby time, and it is practiced by several Flint city departments. The information came from the city in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for records on the amount Flint paid to employees for standby time from 2016 through 2018.

Flint officials refused to provide further explanations regarding the practice. Mayor Karen Weaver did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The practice of providing standby compensation is embedded in the union contracts Flint has negotiated.

For example, the Flint Police Officers Association contains a section on standby compensation that states: “For compensation, the employee on such duty shall receive at his regular straight time rate of pay one (1) hour pay for each calendar day, Monday through Friday and two (2) hours pay for each calendar Saturday, Sunday, and/or holiday of such duty.”

But clearly some employees are eligible for far more standby pay than the union contract stipulates. For example, if an employee making $50,000 a year was on standby 200 days, they'd get $4,800 in standby pay. Yet, there were five Flint employees who collected between $12,589 to $19,948 in total standby time just in 2018.

Those employees’ positions included a utility maintenance and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system supervisor; a city facilities maintenance foreman; a sewer cleaning foreman; a water pollution control operations supervisor; and a police sergeant.

The city of Flint reported a $346 million unfunded pension liability in its 2018 financial report. Its general fund revenues were $50.3 million in 2018.