PATERSON, NJ – The City Council Tuesday night refused to approve $207,078 worth of overtime from the flooding that came after Tropical Storm Lee last month.
The overtime had been included in the routine list of bills that the council approves every meeting. But Councilman Kenneth Morris, chairman of the finance committee, convinced his colleagues not to approve the overtime checks until their inquiry into the controversial overtime after Hurricane Irene makes more progress.
“Absent that, I can’t sign off on these numbers,’’ said Morris. “I need to see information that show it’s justified.’’
The bill list did not break down the overtime to show which employees would receive payments, Morris said. There was no indication that the $207,078 included any money for city managers or the mayor.
The City Council is waiting for state approval to appoint special legal counsel so it can proceed with its hearings into $756,000 worth of flood overtime issued after the hurricane flooding, including checks issued to the mayor and some of his top managers.
In the meantime, the city council Tuesday night voted in favor of a “formal censure and official rebuke” of Mayor Jeffrey Jones for walking out on the October 12 council hearing on the overtime. The resolution said Jones showed a “lack of decorum and total disrespect of the Municipal Council’s authority as a Committee of the Whole and unwillingness to provide answers to the citizens of Paterson regarding the payroll expenditures, including overtime payments for the Mayor.’’
Jones has said he walked out of the proceedings, which he called a “kangaroo court” to protect the rights of his department heads whom he said had not gotten sufficient notice about their call to testify.
Jones has said his administration has completed its internal audit on the overtime and wants to share the findings with the city council. But Morris said that report ought to covered within a formal hearing of the council’s Committee of the Whole on the overtime issue.