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Former Amherst highway chief settles sick time and vacation pay dispute with town

The Town of Amherst will pay out less than $10,000 to settle a dispute with its former highway superintendent.

Robert N. Anderson, who retired as highway chief last year, gave the town notice in December that he intended to sue for more than $80,000 in accumulated sick time and vacation days.

Instead, the two sides agreed on $9,500.

Essentially, the town was able to convince Anderson that a lengthy litigation with hefty legal bills was not in the best interest of either side, said Marc W. Brown, a partner with Goldberg Segalla, which was handling the case for Amherst.

Anderson calculated that the town owed him $68,698.46 for his unused sick time and another $12,741.60 for unused vacation days for the years he served as a general crew chief. That’s a total of $81,440.06.

While the town argued that Anderson should have cashed out his unused vacation time after being appointed highway chief in June 2003, Amherst agreed to pay $9,500 toward the vacation time he was owed. The settlement also allows Anderson to count 105 unused sick days as additional service credit toward his state retirement.

“We thought it was the right move,” Brown said. “The most important thing from our perspective is this was consistent with how the town handled prior employees in similar situations.”

The settlement was under $10,000, which allowed the town’s attorney to settle the matter rather than require approval by the Town Board.

“It’s a shame that the elected officials didn’t have a say in this,” said Councilmember Mark A. Manna, a Democrat who has been critical of any payout for Anderson, a Republican. “I said from the beginning I would never vote to give him a cent.”

While the two sides agreed to the deal, Anderson has yet to formally sign the papers, Brown said.

He will, said Claude A. Joerg, Anderson’s attorney.

“We’ve come to an agreement,” Joerg said. “That’s all I really want to say about it.”