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Officer, City Dispute Over Reservist Pay

July 25, 2003  | 

After initially denying the request, Port Richey, Fla. officials finally decided to pay a police officer for his time spent in active military duty.

According to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Officer Scott Schuck, a U.S. Air Force Reservist, was called into duty in October 2001 and served until November 2002. Under a state law that provides paid leave for annual reserve training, Schuck requested $2,272, or pay for 17 days’. The city declined.

City Attorney Paul Marino said that the city was not obligated to pay the officer for any of the time spent in military service because he was in active duty, not training, as the law mentions. However, a second state law does refer to active duty and states that the city may pay Schuck’s full salary for the first 30 days of duty and then supplement the difference between his military and city salary thereaf-ter.

But the final decision is left to the discretion of the employer due to the loose wording of the state laws. The translation is where Schuck and the city had a difference of opinion. Schuck then took his case to the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association. Less than a month after the St. Petersburg Times reported on the incident in May, and after much public criticism, the city shifted its earlier stance and paid Schuck the amount in which he claimed he was entitled. ‘They did the right thing,” said Sharon Slater, the association’s labor relations director.

Because other city and county agencies already compensate employees who are called to military duty, Marino considered the final decision by City Manager Vince Lupo a “prudent move.” One area resident had spoken before the City Council during the dispute. “I was appalled at it,” said Fred Miller, a veteran. “These guys lay their lives on the line. I’m glad to see him get paid.”

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