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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Oregon must pay $36,744 to former police chief

BLADE STAFF

The city of Oregon has been ordered to pay $36,744 to former Police Chief Thomas Gulch for unused sick time he accrued while he worked for the city.

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gary Cook recently issued the ruling against the city in the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Mr. Gulch in September, 2008, nearly nine months after then-Mayor Marge Brown asked him to resign.

A settlement agreement reached between Mr. Gulch and the city placed the chief on paid administrative leave in December, 2007, and allowed him to retire the following May.

However, Mr. Gulch claimed the contract granted him half of his accrued sick leave, which the city refused to pay.

Oregon Administrator Mike Beazley said the city will likely comply with the judge's order. He said Law Director Paul Goldberg is reviewing the decision.

"We will take appropriate action in the coming weeks," Mr. Beazley said. "We don't anticipate appealing the order."

Judge Cook, who released his opinion June 17, denied Mr. Gulch's request that the city pay attorney fees that he incurred in filing the lawsuit.

Mr. Gulch said the city's refusal to pay the retirement was contrary to city ordinance for awarding benefits to employees who retire.

"I think it was crystal clear from the outset because of language adopted by city council," he said.

According to the opinion, the city argued that the former police chief was not entitled to accrued sick pay because it claimed he didn't retire but instead changed jobs.

Mr. Gulch was hired in May, 2008, by Lucas County Sheriff James Telb to be a manager in the department administration.



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