Saratoga County

Collecting benefits unlawful, state says

The state Department of Labor has ruled that because the town’s former director of building, plannin
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Categories: Schenectady County

The state Department of Labor has ruled that because the town’s former director of building, planning and development resigned, he should not have been collecting unemployment for the past three months.

The Department of Labor made the ruling after newly elected Supervisor Shawn Connelly asked whether or not David Connors should have collected $6,900 in unemployment benefits. Town records showed that Connors received $405 per week in unemployment insurance from the state, the maximum allowed by law.

The town had received a copy of the ruling on Thursday, and The Daily Gazette obtained a copy Monday from the town through a Freedom of Information Law request.

“You quit your job because you thought you were going to be discharged or laid off,” it stated. “The Town Board indicates they had not yet made a decision to keep you provisionally before you resigned. Resigning in anticipation of being terminated is not with good cause.”

The Town Board had accepted Connors’ resignation in September. It was signed by Connors on Aug. 10 and was effective Sept. 7. His resignation was later delayed one week so he could help train his replacement.

Connors is the son of former Supervisor Greg Connors, who was defeated by Connelly in the November 2007 election. Prior to his resignation, David Connors had failed to pass the civil service exam for his position.

Connelly said that his decision to question whether David Connors should receive unemployment had nothing to do with politics.

“We ran on open government, and if it had been someone from our own party it still would have been the same thing,” Connelly said. “I just thought if somebody resigns, you shouldn’t be collecting unemployment.”

Department of Labor spokeswoman Jean Genovese would not say if an investigation into the town or Connors was either under way or planned. She said the Labor Department has a unit that investigates fraud and, depending upon the gravity of the case, the recipient of the benefits could be required to pay restitution. “There could be fines. There could be a penalty where that person is barred from collecting unemployment insurance for a period of time,” she said.

But a box on the Labor Deparatment’s ruling marked “Notice of determination of willful misrepresentation” was left unchecked on the document.

According to the department’s Web site, willful misrepresentation applies to someone who “was aware of the true situation, but gave false information, or purposely failed to fully disclose the facts.”

Connelly said that the town initially thought that it was responsible for paying the estimated $6,900 that Connors collected from October 2007 to last month.

However, unemployment insurance money is actually paid for from a state fund. Each employer is responsible for paying an unemployment insurance tax, which contributes to total unemployment funding. According to the Labor Department, the tax rate is based on an employer’s layoff history, so an employer might benefit slightly by such a ruling in the form of lower taxes.

“Unemployment insurance tax is charged to employers based on their experience rankings,” Genovese said. “Generally, if they’ve laid people off quite a lot they will be on a higher rate than companies that have had no layoffs.”

David Connors did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

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