Lackawanna Taxpayers May Foot $150K in Improper Pay to City Workers

5:01 PM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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LACKAWANNA, N.Y. - Officers in the City of Lackawanna got a pay raise and several years worth of back pay, when the city council approved a new police contract in May. The city council says government employees also got raises that they shouldn't have.

But the Lackawanna council president, Hank Pirowski, wants to try to stop the improper pay raises from occurring in the future.

When the council acted, police personnel got a two to three percent pay raise and also several years worth of back pay. In total, this will cost taxpayers about $700,000.

But, there were strings attached to the contract that the council president says at the time, few people knew about.

"I am very frustrated with my own decision on this, however, again I was going with the information I was given, I have to work with the information our department heads give us," said Pirowski.

Pirowski says when the contract was approved, the council unintentionally boosted the pay of about 20 department and division heads -- some of whom, like the city comptroller -- were supposed to inform council what was in the contract. These employees also got back pay that they shouldn't have gotten in lump sums that were received this month.

"For the city attorney and the comptroller not to inform the council of something, they had to have known is deeply disturbing to every member on council," said Pirowski.

The back pay and raises were tied to a 2009 police contract agreement, which Pirowski claims wasn't clear. Pirowski says he wants part of this agreement voided, so government employees won't get the raises for the next three years.

If they do, taxpayers could pay $150,000 in money that shouldn't have gone out.

"To have their pay being tied to police contracts, which makes no sense because the jobs have nothing to do with one another and neglecting to tell us, that means they were either incompetent or lying to us and both those are unacceptable," said Pirowski.

The city can begin the process of stopping the pay increases, if city council approves the effort, along with the city attorney, who according to Pirowski, also got a lump sum payment and a raise this month.

Pirowksi says that the pay for government officials should be tied to the budget. None of the current members on city council were there in 2009.

But the current mayor, Geoff Szymanski was a council member at the time and Pirowski says he didn't inform council of the raises either.

2 On Your Side made multiple calls to city hall, but they weren't returned. The Lackawanna City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Lackawanna City Hall.

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