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More Emergency Funds Approved, but Dems Dislike Overtime for Former Mayor

Alfred's tab is up to $3.8M.

The easy part was getting an additional emergency appropriation approved to pay for the cleanup related to winter storm Alfred.

The hard part was explaining that some of it was going to the former mayor.

The Town Council on Tuesday approved another $562,000 to cover costs associated with Alfred. It was the third appropriation for the storm.

On November 15, 2011, the council approved $2.834 million in emergency appropriations in addition to the initial $420,000 that was approved on Nov. 3.

Tuesday's approval brings the total storm appropriations to $3.816 million.
 
According to the town Charter, no emergency appropriations are to exceed 5 percent of the current budget. Because of that, a public hearing took place at the council meeting to approve a resolution for the additional money.

No member of the public seemed to care and the council itself seemed more concerned about the what is earmarked for overtime wages during the cleanup efforts.

More specifically, council Democrats took umbrage at former Republican Mayor Jason McCoy getting about $3,600 for working during the storm and its aftermath. The line item for administrative overtime was $4,610.

Democratic council member Thomas DiDio wondered if the town Charter contained a provision for paying the mayor overtime.

Finance Officer james Luddecke said the Internal Revenue Service now requires any administrative stipend for emergency work beyond the normal scope of the job has to be accounted in overtime wages.

He said a figure of $25 per hour was calculated.  

Democratic council member Michael Winkler said managers must take the long weeks with the short weeks and not be paid beyond their salaries.

Democratic council member Marie Herbst said she never took any extra money when she was mayor and Hurricane Gloria came through town.

During the public hearing, Pauline Schaefer, who was a democratic council member during McCoy's two terms, called the overtime compensation "an absolute disgrace," and said she never asked for compensation when she was answering phones at the Emergency Operations Center for 10 hours a day.

Republican council member Brian Motola lashed out at Schaefer and told her that if something inappropriate slipped by the council, then the entire council is to blame.

McCoy did not attend the meeting, but said in a text message that he worked about 18 hours a day for a dozen days straight. He said he lost more than $25 an hour by not spending time at his law practice. 

In a subsequent phone call, he said no one slipped up. He said there is not only a legal opinion supporting the compensation but the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested that all work during the storm be documented and that the overtime wages were eligible for reimbursement along with a majority of the storm costs.

The attached PDF file contains a spread sheet on storm costs.

Greg Kacz December 21, 2011 at 01:02 PM
Should exempt town employees get paid $25.00 per hour that worked week nights and weekends?
meowkats4 December 21, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Here we go spend, spend and more spend. "Federal Emergency Management Agency requested that all work during the storm be documented and that the overtime wages were eligible for reimbursement along with a majority of the storm costs." We all know the "Federal level is doing a great job spending our tax dollars into the great black hole of great DEBT". When are our Politicians going to give a little back into the community, why not forgo the money in overtime! Donate your time! I did during that great storm, and let me tell you I could have used some extra money, but I felt really good when I put my head on my pillow (at night) that I did a great deed to others and helped those that needed the help. What is going to happen with the next storm or storms this winter? American people are getting sick and tired of watching and seeing "Politicians" spending out tax dollars like Kings and Queens, and rubbing it in our faces. Our wallets are ALL SUCKED OUT!
Loretta T December 21, 2011 at 05:38 PM
He did work overtime and as with anyone if you work over time you should be paid for it. He did an amazing job organizing and being a voice for the Town of Vernon. We should show appreciation for his hard work and dedication during that time. We all want to get paid for when we work, why should he be any different?
Greg Kacz December 21, 2011 at 06:29 PM
LORETTA T - - Please make sure all exempt town employees get paid for working during the storm. I thought that mayors are 24/7 to begin with regardless of storms.
Robin December 21, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Is the mayor's position "exempt" or "non-exempt"? If the mayor is salaried and exempt, he shouldn't get overtime pay. If the mayor is a "non-exempt" employee, then he should get overtime pay. Should be the same as it is in the corporate world.
meowkats4 December 21, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Start checking around most companies and corporations have STOPPED OVERTIME. This is a bad economy, at all cost everyone is sticking to a budget except for the Union Jobs and Government Jobs. Towns have budgets and those workers that get overtime due to snow removal is built into the budget. Was the town of VERNON budgeted for overtime for the Mayor or town officials, I don't think so! Each of the towns departments must adhere to their budgets they submitted and do with what they got! If those of you that have responded to this post are all Town Voting Residence? If you reread the article- where they say: "NO MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC seemed to CARE and the council itself seemed more concerned about the what is earmarked for overtime wages during the cleanup efforts. If I didn't have to work evenings I would have attended this meeting and CARED!!
Loretta T December 21, 2011 at 08:00 PM
@ Greg- I don't know if he is exempt or non exemt, it doesn't say. I agree with Robin if his salery is exempt then I take back my comment but if he is non-exempt then he should be paid the over time.
Bert December 21, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Don't you think that we should wait for more details about this before we jump off the cliff and rush to judgement? Seems that Mrs. Schaefer's and Ms. Herbst's comments are putting the town at risk for another law suit. Details are starting to come forward and I presume that the council will be presented with the documentation and rationale (or lack thereof) behind this. That will be the time to decide exactly what is legal, ethical and correct. People should not be shooting their mouths off without proper information. It would be proper for Town Council members to call for a complete investigation without prejudice. The town does not need to pay another judgement from a law suit because elected officials and politicos can't wait to condem.
Rocky December 21, 2011 at 09:49 PM
The town must be out of overtime money by now. Rockville is a mess. Merry Christmess
Johnny Habanero December 22, 2011 at 06:01 AM
Looks like good ol Jason McCoy can have a nice Christmas and even pay for a vacation courtesy of the tax payers. I wish I could have milked $25 bucks and hour to sit around during a storm. Maybe he could have justified the pay if he was out cutting down trees with a chain saw?
Bert December 22, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Greg - If we were talking about employees who were making high salaries, I might agree with you but If we expect our mayors to be 24/7 we should think about raising the salary to something higher than $20,000 or maybe think about a Town Manager system of government. It is very hard to find qualified people to run for mayor. Right now a person needs to be self-employed, retired or have a very understanding boss to be available 24/7. As we saw in the past administration, trying to be mayor and support your family can lead to financial disaster. The pool of qualified candidates willing to be mayor is very small and we sometimes elect well meaning but not always very effective people. Its time to reevaluate our system.
Mark Kalina December 22, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Well, we could have hired an outside consultant at $250.00/hr to do the same thing. Would it make you feel any better? Probably not... As far as the former Mayor Herbst not accepting funds from Gloria- Gloria was small and had a small impact locally by way of comparison. I wish people would spend less time complaining and instead work on solutions. That is what they are elected to do...
Harry Derwent Thomas December 23, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Looks like someone didn't like my comment and deleted it. All I said was that I judged Mark's comment as having "Hit the nail square on the head." Oh well; Ol' 'Arry Thomas
Vernon Taxpayer 2.0 December 24, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Johnny, you have no idea what you are talking about. I managed the Emergency Operations Center during Irene and the snow removal operations in Feb. I know first hand that former Mayor McCoy did not sit around and milk the system. His actions restored power to the residents of Vernon sooner than many sounding communities during Irene. Before you flame someone, get the facts and stow the sarcasm. It makes you look foolish.
Bert December 24, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Did you all see the salaries of the mayors of Ellington,$72,000, East Windsor, $62,000 and Enfield, $70,000 in another media publication last night? Vernon pays $21,000. And we complain that the mayor took some storm related compensation that FEMA will reimburse 3/4 of back to the town. If Vernon wants a mayor who has some skills they are going to have to step up and address this issue. If not, we will just get some nice volunteer to sit in the seat for two years and cut ribbons and make proclamations. The job gets harder and more complex every day and soon no one is going to want the job, at least nobody that we want to have it.
meowkats4 December 24, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Oh no, I'm not letting this go!! I want to see the City Charter. I see many people working extra hours that do not get paid "Overtime" and not see a dime for their extra hours. These are people just like me and you that live in the Town of Vernon that are salaried employed. Nurses, and other Healthcare workers, etc. What other Town Mayors received "Overtime pay" during that nasty storm?
Vernon Taxpayer 2.0 December 24, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Kathy, here's the link to the town's charter: http://www.vernon-ct.gov/files/Press%20Release/Town%20Charter%20-%20single%20page%20format1.pdf Chapter X, Section 1 refers to "compensation". Where's the oversight? Why didn't the Town Administrator or the Town Treasurer inform the Town Council that payments to Mayor McCoy were being made? They had 10 months to do so and didn't. They have fiduciary responsibilities and they didn't fulfill their obligation to the taxpayer.
meowkats4 December 25, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Thank you very much Allen. The Town Charter reads: The Mayor shall be Chief Executive Officer of the Town of Vernon and shall receive "Compensation" as shall be "FIXED" by the Town Council. Overtime seems to be not approved by the Town Council. So I believe Vernon Taxpayers are owed $4,610.00 dollars by Jason McCoy!!!
Vernon Taxpayer 2.0 December 25, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Kathy, Repayment - That's an issue for the lawyers. I respectfully disagree with you and many others. In my opinion, I believe that he earned every penny based on my observation of his performance in the emergency operations center during two of the three emergencies and the extraordinary circumstances never encountered in Vernon from February through November. I also believe that equating the mayor's compensation between towns is a fallacious argument. However the means in which Mayor McCoy's compensation was obtained is debatable. The rub is this - if this goes to court, how much will that cost the taxpayer? I would rather see the Town Council conduct a full and open investigation, as they have the power to do, and hold those responsible accountable if there are irregularities.
Rocky December 25, 2011 at 01:24 PM
@ Allen Sheridan. I agree that a full and open investigation is needed. Full disclosure on who and how many people were compensated. The mayor of West Hartford reported gets no salary and took vacation time. This is worth noting. No lump of coal in his Christmas stocking.
meowkats4 December 25, 2011 at 03:06 PM
I don't want this to go to court at all. The expense will be way over the amount we taxpayers want to dish out. The Town Council needs to stand up and work on this issue. My point is that if we allow our very own Town Officals we elect to just run amock with our tax dollars our Town will be in so far more and more DEBT!! Do you want to see our taxes going up each year? They need to follow the laws/rules of the Town Charter! Just because you are in charge does not mean you can just help your self and the rules don't apply to you!
Bert December 26, 2011 at 02:26 PM
The mayor of West Hartford may be a ceremonial position as it is in South Windsor. They have town managers and their mayors are not their CEO's. I agree with Allen that comparing the salaries of mayors does not give you a completely fair comparison on the surface but I think if you take a look at the structure that Vernon is operating under you'll fill find that it needs a serious review. If we are to have a full-time strong mayor who is the CEO, then he should be paid as such. If we are to have a part-time weak mayor, then it should be do defined. The Charter was deliberately written to be vague in some areas in an attempt to allow for interpretation as times change. It may be time to appoint a Charter Revision Committee because times are rapidly changing. I too think that he deserved every penny he was paid but the manner in which it was done needs to be looked into. In the end it may be perfectly correct but the Town Council should have been at least informed.

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