Paterson Top Stories

Updated with Mayor's Comments: State Tells Paterson Officials To Repay Non-Flood Overtime, Urges City to Hire New Personnel Director

7133acefdda0885a1e60_jonesot.jpg
7133acefdda0885a1e60_jonesot.jpg

PATERSON, NJ – Paterson last year improperly paid more than $28,000 in overtime to four top city officials and they should pay the money back, the state directed Mayor Jeffery Jones in a released letter on Friday.

The payments, which were first exposed on PatersonPress.com, came during the Jones administration’s first year in office. Personnel Director Betty Taylor received $11,549 in appropriate overtime during that year, Public Works Director Christopher Coke received $7,786, Business Administrator Charles Thomas $7,440 and Health and Human Services Director Donna Nelson-Ivy $1,572, said the letter.

The state has said that manager should not receive overtime.

Sign Up for E-News

Those findings came as the conclusion of the state’s three-month review of Paterson’s payroll after the controversial flood overtime payments came to light. The state’s Dec. 15 letter – which in many ways affirmed the evidence that has been emerging from the ongoing City Council hearings – called for Jones to oust his current personnel director and hire a new one. The report in the letter outlined the many problems with the city’s handling overtime, including poor oversight, inadequate checks and balances, sloppy and insufficient record-keeping and outright improper payments.

"We've already begun to examine some things and we're making changes,'' Jones said, adding that his administration inherited a city government that was operating with many flaws.

Jones restated his argument that the flood overtime complied with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's guidelines, even though the state says the payments were improper. "It doesn't seem to fit the totality of things,'' he said.

The mayor said there's "an understanding that resitution has to be made" for what the state deems improper overtime. "I just have to figure out how we're going to do that,'' he said.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) also is requiring Taylor, Thomas and Coke to return overtime they have gotten since July 1, 20011 for duties not connected with the historic flooding.  The state identified more than $54,000 in improper overtime paid to city officials this fiscal year, including the flood checks, the letter said.

In total, the letter identified more than $85,000 in improper overtime, including the flood payments that already have been returned.

The seven-page letter from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs also urged Jones to replace Taylor as personnel director and to look for “qualified applicants” for the job. The state said Taylor’s “performance with respect to payroll functions has been extraordinarily poor.’’

The letter said Taylor’s office issued three duplicate checks for the same overtime for one unnamed employee. Another Paterson worker received an $18,000 check for overtime that should have been for $1,800 and a third employee was paid $12,000 instead of $1,200, the letter said.

The state also criticized Taylor for inconsistencies that were found between employee sign-in sheets and payroll time sheets and for requiring little explanation or justification for the $2.2 million in overtime her division issued for Paterson in the three-and-a-half months between July 1 and October 14 of this year.

When asked about the state's call for Taylor's ouster, Jones said, "That's a recommendation.'' But, he also said that he has been reviewing the operations of various departments and may made some changes. When asked about the state's criticisms of Taylor's performance, the mayor said, "That's a personnel matter and I can't comment.''

The DCA letter found fault with Paterson’s practice of paying overtime to its budget director for the past two decades. That job is currently held by Russell Forenza. But the state did not call for Forenza to repay any of that money.

Taylor, Thomas, Coke and Nelson-Ivy all acknowledged during the City Council’s flood hearings that they have received overtime in addition to the disaster response checks.

Taylor, whose receipt of $43,000 in home repair funds through Paterson’s Community Development program has been the target of a federal investigation, told the council she received overtime because she’s a member of the union.

Thomas acknowledged getting overtime for attending city council meetings and for performing the duties of affirmative action officer. He said he had been taking the extra pay on the fact that his predecessor took comp time for the late hours at the sessions. Thomas offered during the hearing to return the money.

Coke said he was following the precedent of the previous director in getting overtime for work during extreme conditions like floods and blizzards. Coke argued during the hearing that he believed he was entitled to the extra pay.

Nelson-Ivy said she received overtime during spring floods and offered during the hearing to pay that back.

The letter, signed by the director of New Jersey’s Division of Local Government Services, Thomas Neff, called for Paterson’s finance director should oversee an audit of the flood overtime payments to ensure accuracy.

Neff also called on Paterson to review and revise its overtime policies and to implement much controls over the overtime process.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_efec3d39ddc6008dd11e_4a256201-8c0a-450c-b62e-8a761d6f5b83

Thu, July 19, 6:00 PM

Vreeland Ave. Park, Paterson

Occupy Vreeland Ave. Park

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Carousel_image_3f27a97645e7103f9868_flyer__courthouse_plaza_programs_2018-page-001

Tue, July 24, 11:00 AM

Paterson Courthouse Plaza, Paterson

Tuesdays in the Plaza

Carousel_image_efec3d39ddc6008dd11e_4a256201-8c0a-450c-b62e-8a761d6f5b83

Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

Vreeland Ave. Park, Paterson

Occupy Vreeland Ave. Park

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Readers Says Let Developer Bring Paterson Back

July 13, 2018

Dear Editor: 

It is no secret that Paterson is in dire need of revitalizing, restructuring, rebuilding, and, quite frankly, rebranding. As a city, we have struggled to pay our municipal debt, to reduce crime substantially, to create sustainable employment opportunities for our youth and to provide assistance for our city’s most vulnerable residents. 

Today, we face an uphill ...

Pascrell, Renacci, Senators Celebrate House Approval of Congressional Gold Medal to Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby

July 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) hailed the passage in the House of Representatives of H.R. 1861, the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act. The legislation awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the late baseball star, Larry Doby, who broke the American League’s color barrier in 1947.

“A proud ...

PATERSON MAYOR ANDRE SAYEGH APPOINTS MIKE POWELL AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

PATERSON, NJ – Mayor Andre Sayegh today appointed Mike Powell as the city’s economic development director for the new city administration.

“Just as Alexander Hamilton looked to the Great Falls and saw the future of our nation, we look to the Great Falls and all of Paterson’s resources and see the prosperous future of our great city,” said Sayegh.

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Big Plans for Small Park in Newark’s North Ward

NEWARK, NJ- An under-utilized pocket park on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s North Ward has become a symbol of what can be accomplished in neighborhoods throughout the city through effective public-private partnerships. 

The park’s supporters have big plans for the public space, located directly across the street from the busy North Ward Center, located in an historic ...

I'm Sorry Mr. Jackson... I Am For Real

July 8, 2018

Hello again, Paterson. 

So much has changed since the last time I’ve written… as I’d hoped, Andre Sayegh is our new mayor and it seems an exciting new dawn is upon us. I think when any change comes, especially one as major as this, there is an opportunity for reflection as well as for hope. This election taught me quite a bit, seeing some of the best and worst sides of ...

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...