T he town of Whitehall looked to remedy a pair of previous employee situations at its monthly board meeting on Nov. 10.
In the first situation, the board looked into the practice of offering retired employees an insurance buyout, something that had been in practice but had not properly been acted upon with a local law.
“During an audit of the books, we were told by the auditor that the insurance buyout program that we were doing was illegal unless there was a local law passed,” said Town Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon. “That is why this is being questioned. They passed a resolution to do this in 2008, but it was not followed up with a local law.”
Candace Bruce, one of the two former employees who fell under the buyout program along with Charlie Bascue, said that the buyout was something they did in conjunction with the town to help save money.
“This has saved the town between $3,000 and $6,000 per person, per year,” said Bruce.
Board members said they wanted to resolve the matter to make sure that they could legally continue the buyout program for the two currently enrolled, but then end the practice.
“I think that we definitely should continue this program for these two and then that would be it from now on,” said Councilman Richard LaChapelle. “I want to take care of the past problem and then make sure that it ends.”
“We need to get together with (town attorney) Christian (Morris) and work out the language on any local law and make sure that we have our bases covered,” said Gordon.
Sick time compensation
The town also discussed the matter of whether or not to pay sick time to former town employee Keith Whiting. At the Nov. 1 meeting of the town, the board voted against paying the sick time, but had to reverse its decision based on past practices.
“A highway employee who had worked here before got paid for 60 sick hours that he had gained after he left us,” said Gordon. “There is a past practice in place, and we need to follow it.”
Gordon said the past practice was based on the personnel policy, which states that the employee will be paid for all sick time at the time of “separation” from the town as its employer.
“This personnel policy has been absolutely horrible and it will be changed by January,” Gordon said.