Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace is defending the decision made by the receiver of taxes to hire his wife Lisa to a temporary position as a part-time intermediate clerk in the office.
Grace said all laws had been followed and Receiver of Taxes Elfriede Schmid had requested that his wife work in the office due to a personnel shortage.
He said Schmid needed someone she could trust with handling of the money and called his wife "competent" to do the job.
"I don't think there was any problem doing it and she was needed at that particular time," Grace said.
Grace said the receiver of taxes office has been inundated with work—tax bills had to be sent out by Sept. 1—and if needed staff would have worked overtime during the Labor Day weekend to catch up on the work.
But Lisa Grace along with her two daughters and a friend of theirs helped stuff envelopes at the office, Grace said. Because of the extra help no town employees at the office worked overtime.
Lisa Grace began working at the office in Town Hall in September and at first she had offered to volunteer, as she does at other organizations and groups in town, but Schmid had told her that she should get paid, Grace said.
The criticism has been troubling, he said.
"If you beat up someone to do the right thing," Grace said of his wife's willingness to help, "there is a chilling effect on them and that's a problem as far as I'm concerned."
Reacting to "being scrutinized," Grace said it was former town comptroller Joan Goldberg who had the issue with his wife being employed. Goldberg was asked by the town board to resign earlier this year and began her new job as the town administrator in North Castle this week.
"It's unwarranted criticism," Grace said. "It was [Goldberg]'s parting shot. She decided to make an issue out of a non-issue."
Grace said his wife had been doing her job and added there are numerous family members who work in the town in different departments. According to the town's nepotism policy, which was amended on April 5, 2011, immediate family members of a town employee will receive the same consideration as any applicant. Individuals will not be placed in the same department with their family members, with the exception of seasonal and part-time employees.
"It's not a permanent, high-paying job," Grace said of his wife's temporary position. "We needed someone."
Residents who left comments on the topic to this article on Patch had mixed reactions. One person asked why other people weren't interviewed for the job.
"The job should have been posted and people interviewed. I can't believe she's the only qualified person in Yorktown for the job. I know many parents with school-aged children (myself included) who would love to be considered for a part-time job," Sue Petronis Kelleher wrote.
Another person wrote that it did not matter who was doing the job as long as it was getting done.
"Lisa Grace was requested by the Receiver," Ed Lachterman wrote. "Possibly because she offered to help, but that would actually be a violation of town policy if she was not a paid employee."
"I have no problem using the people and resources I have that I trust," Grace told Patch. "That's what I'm here for–to get things done."
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