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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Town Bookkeeper...

and Santa Reed...

Here is a link to the article in the December 21 2008 Observer Dispatch..."Bookkeeper to get $71,544 in unpaid overtime".

Let's start from the beginning...mid 1990. At that time, the town had a part-time Payroll/Purchasing Clerk. No one stayed very long and the town board was constantly in need of hiring a replacement. Finally, at the June 10, 1999 Town Board meeting, Resolution 200 of 1999 was passed. The Resolution states in part:
...the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford does hereby increase the 1999 salary of Bookkeeper Carol D. Fairbrother from Thirty-one Thousand Nine Hundred Thirty-six Dollars ($31,936) to Forty Thousand Dollars ($40,000), retroactive to June 7, 1999, with the express understanding that Ms. Fairbrother shall perform, in addition to her bookkeeping duties, all necessary payroll functions for the Town. As a Civil Service Exempt employee, the Forty Thousand Dollar ($40,000) salary for Ms. Fairbrother shall encompass all necessary hours to complete bookkeeping and payroll functions and Ms. Fairbrother is not entitled to earn and/or receive overtime and/or compensatory time effective June 7, 1999.
Hmm! Ms. Fairbrother knew what the job involved at the time that she accepted it; she knew that she would get no overtime or compensatory time because she is a Civil Service Exempt employee. One can assume that Ms. Fairbrother must have accepted those terms...she sure didn't mind taking the extra $8,000 in her paycheck. In fact, according to the 2009 Adopted Town Budget, taking into consideration that town employees receive 3% increases annually, Ms. Fairbrother's salary is now $58,709, not the $30,000 that the average bookkeeper would earn. Not a bad salary considering that in Attorney Sciotti's Opinion Letter:
"Ms. Fairbrother does not clearly fit into this exemption [Professional] for several reasons: (1) she has no advanced degree;( 2) she does not provided [Attorney Sciotti's spelling] work in a specialized area; and (3) her work was, and still is rather routine in nature."
We will get back to Attorney Sciotti's rationalization in our next blog.

Concerned Citizens was curious as to just what Civil Service Exempt meant. We spoke to the person that answered the phone at the Oneida County Dept. of Personnel, the department that handles Civil Service jobs. She told us that if Ms. Fairbrother is an appointed employee...meaning that she did not have to take the Civil Service exam in order to get the job, then under Civil Service she would be exempt and would not be entitled to overtime or compensatory pay.

We happen to know that Ms. Fairbrother is an appointed employee. More to follow in our next blog on Ms. Fairbrother's job description and other details we happened upon through the FOIL process.

Stay tuned...to be continued...

By the way, hope you don't miss the article in today's Observer Dispatch regarding the upcoming Special Election..."New Hartford residents' choice: Vote 'yes' or face tax hike".

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