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Village countersues former clerk

The Village of Williamsville filed legal papers last week countersuing its former village administrator. The village is seeking a $36,368 repayment of the $72,350 severence pay the village gave her in 2007.

"The village paid Ms. [Sally] Kuzon an amount of money that she is not entitled to, so the village is seeking restitution for that amount of money," said Matthew VanVessem, the attorney representing the village.

Sally Kuzon, the village's administrator from 2000 to August 2007, left her position after she and the Village Board failed to agree on a new contract. She was earning a base annual salary of $72,350 at the time of her departure and currently is assistant city manager in Batavia.

She sued for breach of contract in December, maintaining that she is entitled to $36,175 in severence pay above and beyond the $72,875 the Village Board voted to give her in September 2007. In its seven-page legal response, the village not only denied that Kuzon is owed additional compensation but filed a counterclaim against her. The response stated that Kuzon was "unjustly enriched" because the village mistakenly overpaid Kuzon $36,368 "based on erroneous accruals of sick and vacation [time]."

The village is seeking the dismissal of Kuzon's suit in State Supreme Court and a judgment awarding the village repayment of the money it claims was mistakenly given away. Kuzon's attorney, William Grande, could not be reached to comment.

At the Village Board's Sept. 10, 2007, meeting, the first meeting after Kuzon's departure, Mayor Mary Lowther introduced the resolution to pay Kuzon a $72,875 lump sum, saying the village was contractually obligated to do so.

Trustees Basil Piazza and Brian Kulpa voted with Lowther to pay the amount.

Trustees Jeffrey Kingsley and Brian Geary voted against making the payment, saying the board should take more time to review the figure and secure some legal promises from Kuzon before handing over the money.

Kingsley, a lawyer, questioned whether Kuzon was entitled to what she already received, whether she was terminated or had resigned, and whether the contract clause regarding benefit payouts applied to her decades of service with the village or just her accumulated time since her contract was redrafted in 2003.

"In my opinion, she was overpaid in excess of $30,000 back in September," he said last summer.

He also said it was "mind boggling" that the village never sought a release from Kuzon regarding any future claims before depositing more than $72,000 into her bank account in September.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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