Yorktown town board members are asking former town comptroller Joan Goldberg to return approximately $77,000 she wrote to herself in a check for accumulated unused vacation time.
"We don't believe she is owed it," Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said.
Grace said Goldberg, who served the town for the last 16 years and began a new job as the first-ever town administrator in North Castle last month, wrote the check for $76,959.63 on Sept. 11. He said Goldberg had accumulated 181.5 vacation days – at $424.05 per day, totalling $76,959.63.
Yorktown town board members discussed the issue in executive session on Sept. 26 and then voted in open session to pass a resolution authorizing town attorney Jeannette Koster to send a letter to Goldberg's attorney demanding she returns the money.
The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Nick Bianco voting against the resolution.
"I'm comfortable with my 'No' vote," he said. "I pride myself to be fair and not capricious and arbitrary."
Because of a notice of petition, which was filed by Goldberg's attorney on Oct. 9, Bianco refused to comment any further and disclose what the discussion entailed. (Check back with Patch on the filed notice of petition.)
Yorktown Councilman Dave Paganelli also refused to comment.
"It's a legal issue," he said. "I was advised not to comment."
Goldberg told Patch she filed the notice of petition after town board members passed the resolution on Sept. 26 characterizing her actions as "conversion of town funds."
"All I'm asking for is that they rescind that resolution and they rescind the finding that my actions were improper," Goldberg said.
She said she had a discussion with town board members on April 17 when she told them how much each town employee had in unused vacation time. The document contained data until the end of 2011 and at that time Goldberg had $72,506.60 in unused vacation time, she said.
She stands by her actions and says she is owned the money – $76,959.63 before taxes and deductions, and $42,957.56 after taxes and deductions.
Earlier this year, based on a recommendation by Goldberg and an auditor, the town set up an employee benefit reserve fund, which had approximately $1 million in it, Grace said. He said Goldberg took the direct deposit for her unused vacation time out of that fund.
"Having that fund set up provided her with a line to take out a direct deposit without coming to us," Grace said.
Grace said in 1993, town board members at the time passed a resolution that created a policy stating that department heads had the same employee benefits as the members of the CSEA. In order for an employee or department head to roll over unused vacation time, the person needed approval from town board members first and no more than 35 days could be rolled over in total, he said.
"I did not make the rules," he said. "I inherited the rules. The rules were pretty clear."
Grace said there are two issues. One – Goldberg acted as an auditor of her own unused vacation time when she did the direct deposit and someone else should have been her auditor. Two – there were no resolutions by previous town boards allowing for any roll over of Goldberg's unused vacation time, Grace said.
"I don't have anything on file," he said. "At this point, without any resolutions showing that she was allowed the roll over, then she is not entitled to it."
Grace said the town wants Goldberg, whom he said had the most amount of unused vacation time in town, to return the money.
"No one is begrudging her to it if she is entitled, but she is not entitled to it," he said.
Goldberg; however, said that policy, which was implemented before she was hired in 1996, did not set forth a procedure for the accumulation of vacation time.
"Not one department head in 20 years has had a resolution passed authorizing the carry over of vacation," said Goldberg, naming one other former employee who cashed in $10,000 per year for eight years prior to retirement. "Why am I being treated differently?"
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