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West Seneca Board votes to halt employee's unauthorized pay

The West Seneca Town Board broke into debate Monday over a town employee who has been working as deputy comptroller but was never appointed by the Town Board.

The board voted unanimously to stop "out-of-title-pay" for Linda Kauderer to work as acting deputy comptroller -- a role she has filled along with her official job title of "account mini computer operator" since the previous deputy comptroller retired in 2006.

Councilman Dale F. Clarke said the interim job promotion had effectively given Kauderer a $20,000 raise that was never authorized by the Town Board, but instead was put into place by Town Comptroller Robert J. Bielecki.

"You've got no right giving bonuses to any of your employees," Clarke told Bielecki after calling for a vote on Kauderer's pay.

Bielecki, however, said he was authorized as a department head to approve the "out-of-title-pay" for the additional work Kauderer has been doing outside of her union job classification.

"It's very simple," Bielecki told the board. "If you do the work, you get paid."

Bielecki, who serves as part-time comptroller, said Kauderer has taken over the duties of the deputy town comptroller and another employee after both retired. Initially, Kauderer was scheduled to split the deputy comptroller duties with another employee but took over all of the work after the other employee took a leave and eventually retired, Bielecki said.

Town records previously provided to The Buffalo News list Kauderer as the acting deputy comptroller with a salary of $70,253 in 2010. Her total pay that year, including overtime, was $78,590.

Clarke said Kauderer's salary for mini computer operator would have been about $50,000.

Clarke and Councilwoman Sheila M. Meegan provided a memo from Town Attorney Shawn P. Martin dated July 6 in which he advised Bielecki that the extra pay "must cease immediately."

Meegan said she was told by the town's labor attorney that the way the salary was listed in the budget was done "deceptively" and that the town should move to properly establish the pay for the job and to call for a civil service test.

"I'm being told by our labor attorney that this is not proper, and we have to take the necessary steps to make it right," Meegan said.

Bielecki, after the meeting, said his office has operated within budget and more efficiently during the last three years. During that time, he said, Kauderer had taken on the additional duties, and other employees were brought on so that workers could be cross-trained.

Bielecki also objected to the suggestion that the appointment had been made deceptively. He said the job titles and pay have been listed on the town's website.

"Our department won't function if someone doesn't act as a deputy comptroller," Bielecki said.

The Town Board vote Monday to end the extra pay but did not make it clear what the town would do to fill the job of deputy town comptroller.

In other business, West Seneca police officers will receive annual 3 percent raises for the next four years under a new contract approved by the Town Board on Monday.

Council members unanimously approved the new four-year collective-bargaining agreement with the West Seneca Police Benevolent Association. The contract also reduces the starting pay for new officers to $44,146 from $51,286 starting Jan. 1, Martin said.