Along with home runs, a recreational softball league for Salt Lake City employees has scored expensive injury bills bills paid by the city's taxpayers.
The city budgets $1,800 to sponsor and help subsidize a softball league for city employees. In addition, last year the city also had to swallow workers' compensation claims of $20,300 for 34 employees who suffered injuries in city games, said Frank Fraser, program administrator for the city's human resources division.The bill for one knee injury alone equaled almost half the city's total claims. About 200 of the city's 2,000 employees play ball.
Because it is a city-sponsored league offered as an employee benefit, the city is responsible to pay for the injuries under workers' compensation, said City Attorney Roger Cutler.
The high injury bill is forcing city administrators to consider the future of the league.
"There clearly are some city costs. I think it's an employee benefit, and we're viewing it as such," said Mike Zuhl, chief of staff in Mayor Palmer
DePaulis' office. "It is a program we've got to take a look at to see if we can continue to afford it."
This year, in an effort to cut the costs borne by the taxpayers, any employees who sign up to play will be asked to sign a medical release if they have filed a previous work injury claim, Fraser said.
In the future, the league could be turned over to either the city or county parks and recreation programs. That way, the responsibility to pay injury claims would be shifted away from the city's general fund.
Barbara McRae, city employee relations coordinator, said the recreational league has created a lot of good will among the city's 2,000 employees.