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Fire chief, city reach agreement

Resolution follows 18-month wait for Gloversville official

October 11, 2012
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - After more than a year and a half after she was appointed the city's fire chief, Beth Whitman-Putnam and the city reached an agreement for her compensation and benefits.

A resolution for the terms, approved by the city council in late August and obtained by The Leader-Herald this week, gives Whitman-Putnam an annual salary of $85,000 and an annual stipend of $2,500 for performing administrative duties. The stipend will discontinue if the city hires an administrative assistant to work in the Fire Department.

"I wish we had established her benefits before we appointed her, but we knew we wanted her as the chief and she's doing a good job," said Mayor Dayton King. "At the end, I believe both sides were satisfied, and I'm glad it's behind us."

The resolution's terms, which took effect Aug. 29, say the chief will pay 25 percent of the premium for health insurance coverage and she will not be entitled to a health insurance buyout.

The chief will receive compensation for holidays, including the day after Thanksgiving and one floating holiday. In the event the chief must work all or any portion of a holiday, she will be entitled to equivalent time off within two months after working on the holiday, according to the resolution.

"I am pleased that the [contract] was finally resolved," said Whitman-Putnam, who is the first career female fire chief in the state.

The agreement, which officials say is not a contract, provides Whitman-Putnam with no retroactive pay. This is because she was receiving longevity payments and was paying the firefighters' 7 percent rate for health insurance, said city Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen.

According to the resolution, Whitman-Putnam will be required to attend up to four events or parades during the year without any additional compensation and will be granted no payment for longevity.

The fire chief has been receiving $74,796 per year since she was hired. This was the salary of her predecessor, Douglas Edwards, said Whitman-Putnam's attorney, Arthur Scheuermann. Edwards retired in November 2010.

"I'm glad it is finally resolved after hard negotiations, and we believe that both parties are satisfied with the package that was reached for her," said Scheuermann, who is based in Delmar.

The resolution says the chief will be granted 187 hours annually of paid vacation time. Up to 80 hours of unused vacation time may be carried forward from year to year. Anything over 80 hours will be forfeited on Dec. 31 of each year, the resolution states.

The chief will seek no compensation for 80 hours of unused vacation leave earned in 2011, but the amount will be carried over and available for use during 2012.

Whitman-Putnam will be granted 12 hours of sick leave per month, which can be carried over from year to year.

According to the resolution, 891.5 hours of accrued unused compensatory time the chief previously earned will be converted to sick leave. A total of 100 hours of that time will be added to her current sick-leave accruals and 791.5 hours for use for catastrophic injury or illness.

At the time of retirement, the chief may use the value of unused sick time toward the payment of health insurance premiums that have been determined under the same formula in the Gloversville Firefighters Association contract with the city.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be contacted at gloversville@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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