Orchard Park Police Chief Mark F. Pacholec will retire May 3 with a 20 percent pay increase for this year, 80 comp days and up to $12,500 in longevity pay, under an agreement reached with the town.
Pacholec, who has worked for the town 22 years, signed the agreement Tuesday and the Town Board, by a 3-0 vote, approved it Wednesday evening.
The agreement ends one of the more bizarre episodes in the town, in which the Town Board put Pacholec on paid administrative leave in February, but did not announce it until several weeks later.
“The Town Board and Chief Pacholec are currently working through some issues. While we do so, we have asked him to take time away from the office,” Orchard Park Supervisor Patrick Keem said in an email last month.
As they kept the leave quiet, town officials said the separation agreement with Pacholec could not be released because it includes wording preventing its release.
"There is a confidentiality clause in that agreement, so I can't give you a copy," Town Attorney John Bailey said.
Keeping such a contract private is in violation of the Freedom of Information Law, according to Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.
"The contract is public, notwithstanding a confidentiality clause," Freeman said. "The courts have held time and again that an agreement requiring confidentiality cannot overcome rights conferred in the Freedom of Information Law."
A Town Board resolution lays out extra compensation that is being given to the chief.
• Increasing Pacholec's salary and holiday pay by 20 percent above his current 2019 rate for hours paid in 2019.
• Increasing Pacholec's longevity pay by $10,044 to $12,500 this year.
• Providing Pacholec an additional 80 hours of compensatory time for additional hours worked in 2018 and 2019.
His accrual for personal time, sick time, vacation and compensatory time is to be paid at the rate before it was increased 20 percent, according to the resolution.
Pacholec was appointed chief in 2013, the fifth person to serve as police chief in the town. He joined the police department in 1997.
The resolution brought before the board "recognizes and appreciates Chief Pacholec's years of dedicated service" to the town.
It was late last year that the Town Board discussed his $151,208 salary, which it said was above the "fair market value" of chiefs in similar communities. The following week, several residents, including Pacholec's wife, spoke up for him. The supervisor said the board's issue with the chief had nothing to do with his pay.