The former Glenville comptroller is suing the town, claiming he is owed a payout for unused sick and vacation time.
George Phillips’ last day was on Dec. 28, when he was informed that he was not being appointed to a new term. At its organizational meeting on Jan. 2, the Glenville Town Board hired Jason Cuthbert, the former Schenectady budget analyst who was fired by the city after criticizing the Schenectady County sales tax deal, at a salary of $60,000.
Attorney Eric Dickson claims in the lawsuit filed on Jan. 23 in Schenectady County Court that Phillips, who had worked for the town since August 2001, should have been allowed to stay on as comptroller until his successor was appointed. He also said Phillips is owed payment for salary; longevity; 21 days, 3.5 hours of vacation time; six days, three hours of personal time; and 149.5 days of sick time, all with interest. He is also seeking unspecified punitive damages plus court costs and attorney fees.
“It’s our position that George is entitled to a cash-out of his leave time upon leaving town service,” Dickson said.
The position of comptroller and benefits associated with it is outlined in the town’s employee manual. Dickson believes the case is strong.
“We hope that they’ll just do the right thing and pay George’s employment benefits,” he said.
He said he had not calculated the exact amount of the benefits.
Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he couldn’t comment on the matter.
“The town’s position is not in accordance with Mr. Phillips’ position,” he said.
Koetzle said in a follow-up statement that the board decided to change comptrollers because it felt it was in the best interest of the town. He thanked Phillips for his service and wished him well.
Koetzle referred all questions to Town Attorney Michael Cuevas.
Cuevas said Phillips knew that his employment with Glenville was not secure. The comptroller is appointed for a two-year term when a new board takes office. Board members have staggered four-year terms and regular elections are held in the odd-numbered years. Phillips had not been given the permanent job for the 2012-2013 term. The town in fact had conducted a search for a new comptroller.
After finding no qualified candidates during that fall 2011 search, Phillips was retained for another year, according to Cuevas.
His termination was made effective at the end of the year, according to Cuevas, which was Dec. 28 since Town Hall was closed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Cuthbert’s term will be up at the end of the year and then the next board will decide if he gets another two-year term.
Cuevas said if Phillips were successful in the lawsuit, the town could be on the hook for about $30,000. However, he believes the law is clearly on the town’s side.
“When you’re not represented by a union and you don’t have an employment contract, the town would have no liability,” he said.