Council passes ‘City of Austin' version of Paid Sick Leave

“I believe that we aren't acting too quickly, I believe we are acting too late. I think that our staff should have had sick time long before anybody on this dias was elected,” said Council Member Greg Casar on Thursday.

In various council work sessions, City of Austin Human Resources has said the cost for fully implementing paid sick leave within City of Austin government is somewhere between $350,000 and $1.4 million, stressing that the 1.4 million is an unlikely scenario on the high end.

“There are too many unknowns and I can't endorse something that I have no idea what the outcomes are going to be,” said Council Member Ora Houston.

When council passed paid sick leave requriements for private businesses 2 weeks ago, Casar said a separate resolution had to be brought forward to bring the city into the fold too. so that's what this is.

“Already, full time employees hired by the city are entitled to earned sick leave. This extends that to temporary employees, employees that are not permanennt employees,” Mayor Steve Adler said.

Think summer lifeguards. So city staff says the Parks department will be the most impacted.

Last year council had already committed to start paying temporary employees sick time, the plan just hadn't been implemented yet.

“In the last budget session last September of last year the council put in money that's going to be used now to help set up the program and provide information to the public,” Adler said.

Casar’s resolution passed during Thursday's meeting. Council Member Leslie Pool expressed her concerns but ultimately supported it.

“It does not go unremarked for me that we will be reducing the amount of money that we might spend on something else. Putting it to benefit our employees however is pretty much the top of my list,” Pool said.

“This is going to hit people's pocketbooks. These are the kinds of decisions that the council is making that are causing property taxes to rise,” said Council Member Ellen Troxclair.

Council Members Troxclair and Houston voted no.

“The way that this was handled was completely inappropriate and it's totally irresponsible for us to be basically spending taxpayer dollars before we even know how much it's going to cost,” Troxclair said. “Do I think that a 16-year-old life guard who is having a summer job is expecting to get paid or to accrue paid sick leave? No I don't,” Troxclair said.