Brick's outstanding obligations to pay out unused sick and vacation time to employees as they retire have decreased in the past year, budget documents show.
According to the 2012 township budget, Brick's compensated absence liabilities – the technical name for unused sick and vacation time owed to employees – currently totals $6,729,539.
When the 2011 budget was approved last year, the total obligations were $7,299,391.
Those figures include only employees of the municipal government; school district employees and employees of the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority fall under different contracts.
The current liability consists of 30,656 days owed to members of the township's three unions – the Transport Workers Union, Policemen's Benevolent Association and Teamsters – as well as unclassified employees. Union members' benefits are covered under state law and labor agreements, while nonunion employees' benefits stem from a local ordinance.
Members of the PBA account for the bulk of the current liabilities – about $3.5 million – while TWU workers are owed approximately $1.7 million and Teamsters members are owed $528,155. Nonunion employees are owed $889,705.
Those numbers fluctuate depending on the year. Township officials said retirement payouts, as well as terminations or employees using – or not using – sick or vacation time can affect the amount of the liability. For 2012, $900,000 is set aside for potential payouts.
In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie signed a law limiting employee sick and vacation time retirement payouts to $15,000, according to Township Attorney Jean Cipriani.
"The sick time that was accumulated prior to the date of legislation in 2010 … would be retained by the employee and they would be entitled to cash that out," she said.
The amount of sick time that is given per year to township employees is dictated by state law. The state minimum is 15 days, and the carrying over of sick time cannot be restricted, said Business Administrator Scott Pezarras.
However, going forward, payouts will be restricted. Members of the TWU hired after 1998 are limited to $7,500 while the recent police contract caps payouts at $25,000.
"That is going to be a huge savings moving forward," Pezarras said.
However, "if you already earned that benefit, it cannot be taken away without a constitutional change," he said.