A former village clerk's actions could end up costing Lancaster taxpayers more than $750,000, the Village Board learned Monday.
Tammy Derkovitz, who started as a building and zoning clerk and over 14 years worked her way up to village clerk, apparently signed a contract in 2003, without the consent of the Village Board or the mayor, according to Village Attorney Arthur A. Herdzik.
The contract named the Public Entity Trust of New York as the village's workers' compensation provider.
The company subsequently went belly up. Now cities that include Elmira and Plattsburgh, plus the villages of Sloan and Kenmore, as well as Lancaster, are left holding the bag because the contracts held them "jointly and severally liable" if the company defaulted, Herdzik said.
Trustees voted Monday to hire attorney Paul Weiss to help Herdzik unravel a legal mess that has a bonding company breathing down the village's neck for $750,000 and the state demanding another $21,000 -- and possibly more -- from village coffers.
Derkovitz, who resigned last October as village clerk, told The Buffalo News on Monday night that she was unaware the trustees had discussed the issue.
Herdzik's revelations about the village's potential tab appeared to stun the mayor and trustees.
"I guess I shouldn't be shocked by anything that happens in government," Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. said after Monday's meeting. "This is not the first time we have hired Paul Weiss to deal with a matter involving Mrs. Derkovitz."
Cansdale noted that after she left her post last fall, the village discovered some files pertaining to election records, births and deaths were missing.
The village -- apparently without the knowledge or consent of the mayor or the Village Board -- was affiliated with PETNY in 2003 and 2004, Herdzik said. He said a consultant later advised Derkovitz to drop out of the plan.
The state is demanding the first of 60 consecutive payments of $363.81 from the village by Wednesday. Herdzik advised the trustees to pay that amount "under protest" while he and Weiss research the matter further. They voted to do so.