The Cortlandt Town Board intends to draw up a contract for Deputy Town Attorney that could make legal vacation payouts to Deputy Town Attorney John Klarl.
The action comes in response to Tax Watch’s report on Friday that Klarl had cashed in close to $17,000 in unused vacation time that was not authorized by town resolution.
The Cortlandt Town Board met Monday night in work session, and Supervisor Linda Puglisi issued a prepared statement to me, again making the case for maintaining the benefit Klarl, a part-time town employee, working 24 hours a week, who enjoys health and pension benefits, and whom Puglisi wants to treat as a department head.
According to a 1992 town resolution, only town departments are allowed to cash in their unused vacation days before retirement. Last week, Puglisi argued that the part-time attorney should be considered a department head because he served occasionally as the acting town attorney on a day when Town Attorney Tom Wood, his private law partner, was out of town.
In the letter, Puglisi argues that the part-time lawyer should be considered a department head because the state Public Employees Relation Board considered him a management employee in 1997 after the Teamsters Local 456 wanted to include that position in the bargaining unit it sought to establish.
“Therefore, it was determined that this position would be comparable to a department head,” Puglisi wrote.
But Cortlandt attorney Dan Pagano, who has questioned the town’s legal team, says Puglisi’s analysis doesn’t hold up for the part-time lawyer.
“You can see the arrogance here,” he said. “They want to keep doing it and giving our money away.”
Pagano suggested that the town revise its vacation policy to prohibit employees from cashing in unused vacation time.
“They need a use-it or lose-it policy,” he said. “We can’t afford money for recreation programs but we have plenty of money for part-time lawyers.”
Puglisi referred questions to Wood.
He said any change in town policy would have to be negotiated with town unions. And managerial benefits are tied to the union contracts.
“I’m sure town board take a look when contracts are up,” he said.
The town board, meanwhile, plans to draw up a contract for Klarl, clarifying his benefits. Wood said the town would hire an outside attorney to draw up the agreement for his private law partner. Wood said his employment contract, which allows him to cash in up to seven weeks of unused sick or vacation time, was drawn up by a town board member who was also an attorney.