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Nothing Illegal About Comp Time, Solicitor Says; Changes in Galloway Township Statute Likely

It was not illegal for the township manager to grant the CFO and the clerk comp time, but council members feel it also wasn't the right thing to do.

Solicitor Michael Blee has evaluated the township code concerning comp time and overtime, and he has determined it was not illegal for Township Clerk Kimberley Hodsdon, Deputy Clerk Carol Hackney and Chief Financial Officer Marilyn Dolcy to request comp time, nor was it illegal for Township Manager Steve Bonanni to grant that time.

However, Mayor Don Purdy and Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola said they disagree with the statute and will seek to have it reviewed.

On Jan. 12, township officials stated they were set to investigate claims that Bonanni approved comp time for Hodsdon, Hackney and Dolcy.

“The wording of the code is confusing,” Purdy said, reiterating that nothing illegal took place. “But we have township employees who are scheduled to take 12 furlough days this year. This isn’t right.”

“We have had to cut some employees, police officers, fire people and then we find out this is happening,” Councilman Jim Gorman said. “I just wish he would have come to council about it.”

According to township code, Chapter 73-5, “all employees, other than department or office heads, are entitled to overtime compensation within budget limitations and as approved by the Township Manager,” and “compensatory time off for all employees, including department and/or office heads, may be given at 1 1/2 hours for each hour worked as overtime, at the discretion of the Township Manager, upon recommendation of the department head. Said compensatory time off should not exceed 35 hours for white-collar employees and 40 hours for blue-collar employees, nor be carried into another year, unless recommended by the department head and authorized by the Township Manager.”

The final part of this statute is what helped Blee make his determination that nothing illegal took place.

“The Township Clerk and CFO would be considered white-collar employees and their overtime has far exceeded the 35 hour barrier for 2011,” Blee’s Associate Daniel A. Davidow said in an email Wednesday morning. “However, under the plain language of the statute, if authorized by the Township Manager, these hours can exceed 35 hours within a year and may be carried into another year.”

Bonanni, who announced his intention to on Jan. 10, confirmed via email that this code may be rewritten under Chapter 73-5(E), Overtime, which states, “Council will review and make the amendments they feel are appropriate.”

“The ordinance was created in 1980,” Coppola said. “I would like to have it reworked.”

Coppola referenced the Fair Labor Standards Act, which covers most jobs. Some jobs, while covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, are exempt from the overtime rules. Anyone who makes at least $23,600 a year is exempt, and anyone who makes over $100,000 is “certainly exempt.” Dolcy’ salary is $105,000 a year, and Hodsdon’s salary is $64,429 a year.

Dolcy and Hodsdon both became employees of the township on Oct. 4. replaced former clerk Lisa Tilton, and took over for who left the township for a job in Stone Harbor.

Hodsdon put in for 39.5 hours of comp time from her date of hire through the end of last year, according to payroll records. Hackney makes $40,500 a year.

Dolcy put in for nearly 60 hours through Dec. 16, according to the records.

All three were seeking compensation for not taking lunch, or taking a shortened lunch. Hodsdon and Dolcy sought compensation for staying at work late and working council meetings.

A discussion on whether or not to change the ordinance is likely to take place at the council meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 24. It will be the first council meeting of 2012, as the one scheduled for Jan. 10 was canceled. The issues previously set for Jan. 10’s agenda will be on Tuesday’s agenda, Purdy said.

Mike Suleiman January 19, 2012 at 01:54 AM
If you skip lunch in the private sector, you get hungry. If you skip lunch in Galloway Township, you get paid. Unbelievable.
Keep Galloway Green January 19, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Harry...Editorial in todays Press agrees with you....I hope your becoming Galloway's # 1 pain in neck!....lol
VTPat January 19, 2012 at 11:28 PM
This is a disgrace, thank you Harry for continuing to uncover this theft in our beleaguered town. If it smells like a turd it is, no matter what the Absecon lawyer says. Galloway Council, all of them need to either do their jobs or step down. Don't you think the developers that want that huge strip mall and McDonalds across from the dieing Smithville are watching this. How are we going to overdevelop a crowded 2 lane highway with these morons running the show. Bassford will finally be able to stroll a strip mall that replaces smithville and get his pair of pants. Or will he....LOL
Jessie Rush January 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
This opinion isn't worth the paper its written on. Just more damage control from this out of control government. I expected the town to get the time back from these employees but I guess that is not going to happen. This is why the people of NJ hate government employees. Its all about them on our dime. The CFO makes triple what the average american makes a year and she wants a FREE LUNCH on top of it. I remember reading a post on Harry Scheeler's blog "there's no free lunch in government." Well Harry your wrong, apparently in Galloway there is. I hope every single Republican up there understands the Democrats will have control of this town in the next election and hopefully clean house. And yes I agree there needs to be an outside legal opinion on this 1980's law.
BruceSefton January 20, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Not surprising at all considering what we have seen from this government so far.
smithvillian January 20, 2012 at 01:23 AM
What a surprise....who didn't know Blee wasn't going to find any fault with regard to this issue. That code is written with the intention to abuse and that is exactly what has been going on for who knows how long......let's find out just how much $$$ has been paid out for these comp time requests. I guarantee that number will be staggering. Only those benefitting from this will defend it and that's not even a possibility because this is just a sampling of the skimming and taking of money the feel entitled to make their own. It's a learned behavior from the others that stole before them.....let's see the numbers!
Goverment at it's finest! January 24, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Lisa Tilton most certainly was paid comp time. It was also part of her severance package I believe. But I'm sure that you'll find a way to justify her comp time.
58yearGresident January 24, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Thats why we call it the "GALLO - WAY" of doing it. If it doesen't work the first time, Change the Rules that stopped it from working = "GALLOW WAY".
58yearGresident January 24, 2012 at 04:17 AM
It is not the first time the've done that, now is it.
58yearGresident January 24, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Thanks Harry, You are just getting started!
GWAYTRUTH February 02, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Who's Carol?
GWAYTRUTH February 02, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Seem to know a lot about this individual........ an alias perhaps?
58yearGresident February 11, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Only if you are a Supervisor up to Director.

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