Monday, March 22, 2010

Leaked E-Mails Suggest Payroll Errors In Milford Czar's Salary

The City of Milford, much like Congress wasted no time in letting a "good crisis go to waste." That crisis was highlighted last year when the Milford Building Department failed to perform to the operational standards required by permittees.

Mayor Jim Richetelli took matters into his own hands and hired an outside firm, to figure out why a department with an approximate $750,000.00 budget could not responsibly process an average of Five permits each day.

The answer was the KRIT, (Kimball Report Implementation Team) or a group of designated individuals assigned the duty of implementing the recommendations of Mr. Kimballs report of which he was paid $50,000.00 to write.

The Mayor and the "KRIT" then hired Mr. Robert Novak as Milford's "Land Use Czar." According to (Unverified) leaked documents Mr. Novak was hired as a "Seasonal Employee." His paycheck is figured for 37.5 Hours each week for a net weekly paycheck of $1,922.25.

This expansion of government was also one of the mitigating factors that resulted in this years tax increase. This increase as it stands is rising yet again at a rate that outpaces normal inflation for our region as it "balloons" the budget in that department to nearly $900,000.00.

However, the taxpayers of Milford are afforded some protections against these unfortunate expansions of government personnel. According to Milford's City Ordinances, "Seasonal Employees" (Like Mr. Novak) are not permitted to be paid for City Holidays. However, one e-mail (Above) dubbed the "Smoking Gun" exposed a (Later corrected) municipal attempt to pay Mr. Novak "Extra" benefits of which he was not entitled to. This all happened "right under the nose" of officials at the highest levels of city government.

This alleged Payroll Error, came by direct order of the Mayor who in an e-mail dated Nov. 24, 2009 instructed city departments that he "made an agreement with Douglas Novak Interim Director of the Department of Permitting and Land Use that he will be paid on a weekly basis and will be paid holidays." However, the city ordinance precluding this as illegal is "Crystal Clear" "NO SEASONAL OR TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE IS COMPENSATED FOR CITY HOLIDAYS."

The leaked emails indicate that the Mayor, and his staff are either clueless as to the law or are using executive decree to convince payroll officers and/or department heads to do things their way and not necessarily the right way. The Mayors office sought a legal opinion from the City attorney to in fact "pay" the extra money to Mr. Novak.

The people of Milford are already faced with more than their fair share of costly lawsuits, the latest being that of Cynthia Anger who was fired from the city. While this lawsuit is part of an ongoing process, early reports indicate that Ms. Angers involvement in challenging some of the Mayor's demands may have been dubbed as "Insubordination" and were the reason for her being "Fired." The E-Mail above is alleged to be from Ms. Angers boss City Attorney Winthrop Smith Esq. and is an example of the types of things that were ongoing with the Land Use Director.

Should the city continue to pursue the payment of "Benefits" to Mr. Novak it could open the door for another costly lawsuit from other "Seasonal Employees." These employees could easily claim that they are not being afforded "equal protection under the law." As such they can demand that they also get paid "holidays and benefits" the same as Mr. Novak. Especially if he manages to somehow prevail in a "round-about way."

The E-Mail above (Unverified) indicates that Mr. Novak was illegally paid for a Thanksgiving holiday last year that he was not entitled to.

During this time, several local taxpayers complained, and only then under that type of legal challenge or issue, did Mr. Novak have his agreement with the mayor altered. The alteration reflected that his paid vacation day be refunded back to the taxpayers of Milford so as to maintain legal compliance. (See the E-Mail Below)

Promises were clearly made to Mr. Novak that are now being reneged on. This means that this fight may not be over just yet and Milford's taxpayers should remain vigilant as to the propensity for alternate and creative compensation methods of Mr. Novak for his "Paid Holidays."


To read the Mayors Memorandum regarding the Financial Crisis in Milford Click here.