Former town comptroller Joan Goldberg and the town of Yorktown are in dispute over nearly $77,000 of unused vacation time.
Goldberg filed a notice of petition last week against the town and Yorktown town board members, asking them to rescind a Sept. 26 resolution that characterized her actions as "conversion of town funds."
Below is Goldberg's letter to Patch regarding an article in the Journal News (italics added for visual differentiation of the letter):
To Set the Record Straight:
I have written this letter to correct factual errors in the Sunday, October 14, 2012, page 6 article written by Robert Marchant [The Journal News], titled "Ousted Comptroller claims $79G on way out" and the electronic version of the same article titled "Yorktown disputes $79G in unused vacation for ousted comptroller."
The article states that the case “may go to Westchester County Court.” That is not accurate. The case is now pending before the Supreme Court of the State of New York and is a matter of public record. Matter of Joan Cavorti Goldberg against the Town of Yorktown and the Town Board of the Town of Yorktown, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Westchester Index Number 4611/2012.
The article states that I “was asked to submit my resignation by a 3-2 vote by the Town Board in May.” That is not accurate. The May 15, 2012 Town Board Resolution provides “Resolved, to not appoint Comptroller Joan Goldberg and ask her to tender her resignation.” However, the day after the vote was taken, on May 16, 2012, I was asked to remain on the job and to apply for the position. Nobody ever asked me to resign. So I was not “ousted” as indicated in the print version headline and the first sentence. I remained on the job, but began looking for other employment at the same time.
The article states that “As she left her post, she wrote a check to herself for 181 days of vacation time she did not use.” It also refers to $79,000 as the amount for which a check was written. That is not accurate. My last day of work was September 21. Payment of $42,957.56 was issued, representing the amount due after taxes and deductions on $76,959.63. The payment of $42,957.56 was made on September 13, 2012 via electronic deposit, as was the case with other payments I received from Yorktown since the time that electronic deposits were authorized.
The money used to pay me was specifically reserved by unanimous vote of the Town Board on April 17, 2012 and Town Supervisor Grace Michael Grace was quoted in the May 24, 2012 edition of the Yorktown News, where he states the amount owed to me was over $70,000, and Town Councilman Nick Bianco, was quoted in the September 4, 2012 edition of the Yorktown Examiner as stating the amount due is about $80,000. Accordingly, the payment to which I was entitled was known to the Town Supervisor and the Town Board long in advance of payment; nobody contested my entitlement to that payment at that time, not even Town Supervisor Grace, who acknowledged the indebtedness.
However, he acknowledged the indebtedness before I filed inquiries concerning the hiring of the Town Supervisor’s wife with the Town’s Human Resources Specialist and the Town Board as that pertains to the Town’s anti-nepotism laws.
The article states that “Grace said that the amount of vacation time Goldberg was claiming needed to be verified by someone other than herself.” Town Supervisor Grace may have made that statement, but the statement is not accurate. In fact, prior to the reserve being set aside on April 17, 2012, the amount due each employee, including me, was presented to Town Supervisor Grace and the Town Board. The books and records of the Town of Yorktown are independently audited on an annual basis and the Comptroller of the State of New York also audits the Town’s records from time-to-time.
As indicated, Town Supervisor Grace was aware that I was owed the money I was paid. Furthermore, pursuant to Town Law section 34, the Town Comptroller is responsible for reviewing and acting on issues concerning payroll for all Town employees without the need for preapproval or authorization by the Town Supervisor.
Town Supervisor Grace was quoted as stating ““I’m going by the written policy of the town, which is what I am mandated to do. ... This is a clearly written policy,” ... “If other people were paid under a misbelief, I’m not about to perpetuate that.” Furthermore, the assertion attributed to Town Supervisor Grace that I did not have permission from the Town Board to be paid for unused and accumulated vacation time is not accurate. General Municipal Law section 92, authorizes a town board by resolution to grant paid accumulated and unused vacation leave to its officers to their credit at the time of separation of service. The 1993 Town Board Resolution number 289, as amended by Town Board 1993 Resolution number 320 on June 1, 1993, was in effect on September 2012. The “written policy,” which was adopted in 1993, sets forth benefits to be received by Department Heads. The Town Board approved of the reserve to be set aside on April 17, 2012, so the payment was made consistent with law and precedent.
In fact, payment of unused and accumulated vacation time for Department Heads has been made to each of at least 15 Department Heads during the last 16+ years (and, before that, to the Comptroller in office before me) and funds for such payments were approved in budget resolutions or budget transfer resolutions or the special reserve resolution. The payments made were for time that was earned by Department Heads who worked long hours and did not receive overtime or standby pay. Furthermore, Town Supervisor Michael Grace was quoted in the May 24, 2012 edition of the Yorktown News, as having acknowledged that the amount owed to me was over $70,000, but that was before I filed written anti-nepotism inquiries concerning the hiring of the Town Supervisor’s wife with the Town’s Human Resources Specialist and the Town Board.
The article states that Town Supervisor Grace “said Goldberg had a vested interest in permitting other department heads to store up unused vacation days, as she herself was doing.” Perhaps Town Supervisor Grace made that statement, but the statement is not accurate. As indicated previously, the Town Board approved funds for such payments in budget resolutions or budget transfer resolutions or the special reserve resolution.
To the extent that you wish to verify any of these assertions, please refer to the exhibits that are part of the Verified Petition and Complaint in Matter of Joan Cavorti Goldberg against the Town of Yorktown and the Town Board of the Town of Yorktown, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Westchester Index Number 4611/2012.
Joan Cavorti Goldberg
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