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Niskayuna police chief sues over salary

Friday, January 9, 2009
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— A dispute over the Niskayuna police chief’s pay rate has landed in court.

Chief Lewis Moskowitz has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to review his salary, arguing that state provisions are not being followed and he has not received increases due to him.

The town argues it has paid Moskowitz what he is owed.

Moskowitz’s attorney, John Poklemba, said Thursday they are arguing Moskowitz is owed as much as $10,000 over the life of the most recent two-year police contract.

The police chief’s post is budgeted at $95,575 for 2009, though Moskowitz’s actual salary has been set at $92,381, according to a salary schedule approved last week. The schedule included a 4 percent cost of living increase.

At issue is a provision in general municipal law. The provision requires the chief to receive a salary increase whenever his highest ranking subordinate and member of the union receives a salary increase, according to the chief’s filing.

“We’ve written a number of times to the town supervisor and the town attorney and we haven’t gotten any response,” Poklemba said. “Our only recourse was to go to court.”

The petition was filed in late December in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County. The town was served this week, Supervisor Joe Landry said.

In between, the town sent Moskowitz a payment at the end of the year, one that gave him the highest increase of any department head, Landry said. The amount of that payment was not immediately available.

“We believe, from the town’s perspective, that we have paid him what he is due,” Landry said. “If he believes he is owed more, the courts can decide that.”

Moskowitz has served as chief since January 2005. His appointment became permanent in May 2006 after he passed the chief’s civil service exam.

Moskowitz started with the department in 1983 as a civilian dispatcher and was made a patrol officer in 1984. He was made detective in 1990, detective sergeant in 1998 and lieutenant in 1999.

 
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