APD officer’s widow to receive denied sick pay on what would’ve been 20th wedding anniversary

Investigations

Editor’s note – This article was updated to now reflect that, due to new information from the city, three former Austin Police Department officers met the criteria for sick time payouts.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On what would’ve been the 20th wedding anniversary for Amy and Norman Bujanos, Amy got a call Tuesday morning from someone in human resources at the Austin Police Department. They said they had a check for her and asked if she could come pick it up.

She’s been waiting to hear from the city for the last month, after a KXAN investigation prompted the city to change its mind and make the decision to pay her family and two former police officers tens of thousands of dollars worth of the sick time pay they were denied in 2018.

Amy and Norman Bujanos on their wedding day (Bujanos Family Photo)
Amy and Norman Bujanos on their wedding day (Bujanos Family Photo)

“I don’t think it’s an accident that I got the call today,” Amy said. “It feels like a sign. I’ve been having a rough day, but this makes it feel like he’s giving me a gift today.”

Amy’s husband, Detective Norman Bujanos, died from a reaction to the popular prescription drug, Lamotrigine in October 2018. When she went to pick up his final paycheck, she noticed it was missing about $29,000. He was denied payment for more than 600 hours of sick time he had accumulated. KXAN discovered nine other officers were also impacted because they left the department when there was a lapse in the employment contract with the city. For a nearly one year period in 2018, the Austin Police Association and the city council were trying to come to an agreement.

Amy reached out after her husband’s death, asking if the city would make an exception and pay her family the full benefits her husband earned because it was such a unique circumstance, and it was not her husband’s choice to leave the department. In addition, a new contract was signed less than 30 days after his death. She and KXAN were told by the city and the Austin police chief the city attorney said “no.”

After the city denied her request, KXAN discovered the city had made an exception for two police officers who were eventually paid their full sick time payout: Police Chief Brian Manley and former Assistant Chief Chris McIlvain. Both officers retired during the no contract period, and were rehired by the city under the agreement they would eventually receive their full sick time payout once a new APD employment contract was signed.

Initially, the city said it planned to pay out the denied sick time in supplemental payments over the course of several months. But it appears those getting paid may be receiving the full amount in one single check.

Their scheduled payouts are listed below:

NAME GROSS
Amy Bujanos – Beneficiary of Norman Bujanos $29,096.40
Frank R. Dixon $64,803.20
Antonius L. Vanboekhout $27.94

Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon, a former assistant chief with APD, told KXAN he also received a call from the city Tuesday saying a check with the sick time payout he was denied was ready and would be mailed. Chief Dixon did not ask about the amount.

“I didn’t ask because I hadn’t anticipated getting anything,” Dixon said. “Whatever it is, it will be a welcome surprise.”

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