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Tue., Oct. 6
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Accounts payable clerk says switch to BOCES violation of state law


MASSENA - The current accounts payable clerk in the Massena Central School District who will lose her job when the function is transferred in 2012-13 to the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services says district officials are violating New York state law with the move.

Rebecca Pomainville also suggested during Thursday night’s public hearing on the 2012-13 budget proposal that the savings wouldn’t be what district officials are predicting.

Ms. Pomainville said while there are some grounds for abolishing non-instructional positions such as hers, Massena Central’s move doesn’t fall within the guidelines.

Quoting from New York state law, she said the proposed abolishment of the account clerk position is illegal because it “achieved no cost savings, hired someone else as a replacement or the abolition was otherwise motiviated by bad faith.”

“It’s a violation of New York state law what you’re doing now, abolishing when there is no cost savings,” she said, noting it was also against the law to shift another person into the position. Sixty percent of the accounts payable position will be moved to BOCES, leaving 40 percent for another district employee to handle

She said state law indicates the employee must show that the employer had no bona fide reason for eliminating the position; achieved no cost savings, which she said applies in Massena Central’s case; hired someone else as a replacement, which also applies; or that the abolition was “otherwise motivated by bad faith,” which she said likewise applies in her case.

District officials have said the transfer of the accounts payable position, psychologist, business manager and food service director to BOCES will save the district $167,636 in 2013-14. The district would receive 80 percent reimbursement one year after BOCES personnel began filling the positions.

Of that, they said, the transfer of the accounts payable clerk would provide a savings of $57,421.

Ms. Pomainville, however, said those figures are inaccurate.

She provided board members with a cost comparison that indicated the position, if unchanged, in 2012-13, would cost $108,000 - $78,000 for a 100 percent account clerk and $30,000 for a 40 percent keyboard specialist.

With the change, she said it would cost $40,000 in 2012-13 for a 60 percent BOCES employee, $75,500 for a 100 percent keyboard specialist and $21,000 for her unemployment fees, a total of $136,500 and an estimated loss in fiscal year 2013 of $28,500 over the current costs.

In 2013-14, Ms. Pomainville said, the cost would be $41,400 for a 60 percent BOCES employee, $78,143 for a 100 percent keyboard specialist and $10,500 for unemployment fees. The district would receive $22,500 in state aid reimbursement, which would make the total cost $107,543, an estimated savings of $4,238 in fiscal year 2014.

If the position remained unchanged in 2013-14, she said it would cost $80,730 for a 100 percent account clerk and $31,050 for a 40 percent keyboard, a total of $111,780.

The estimated two-year projection would be an overall loss of $24,263 for the district, Ms. Pomainville said.

Her research indicates that rather than four total positions being shifted to BOCES, 3.2 full-time equivalent positions are being abolished and 2.8 full-time equivalent positions are being replaced with BOCES. She said the district’s 2013-14 savings would be $85,953 rather than the $167,636 district officials have indicated.

Dean Trotter, a retired district employee, also shared his concerns during the public hearing about the loss of a full-time business manager to BOCES. Current Assistant Superintendent for Business Cynthia M. Yager’s role will be transferred to BOCES when she retires at the end of August, and Mr. Trotter said that a 40-hour position handling a $46 million budget will be reduced to 60 percent, something he didn’t believe was feasible.

“I feel scared,” he said. “I can’t see an individual at 100 percent at the job and replacing her with someone at 60 percent.”

Finance Committee Chairman Michael J. LeBire, however, said that the move was working at other districts, such as Ogdensburg Free Academy.

“If we had been the first to take it on, I would be nervous,” he said.

Finance Committee member John R. Boyce said the move was a financial necessity. He suggested that, at the current rate, the district’s fund balance would be empty in four years.

“Timing-wise, it’s the right time to try it,” he said.

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