Three of the city Deputies, facilitated by their respective bosses, used a poorly defined provision adopted by the Saratoga Springs City Council to feed at the public trough.
Angella Rella, Deputy Mayor: $5,640.75
Stacy Connors, Deputy Commissioner of Accounts: $4,136.75
Heather Crocker, Deputy Commissioner of Finance: $1,128.15
A Proposition Cynically Exploited
In February of 2023, the City Council voted for a major increase in their deputies’ salaries. At the same meeting, prompted by Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, they added a new perk. All deputies could be paid extra to be “on call”.
As a computer consultant who supports software, I thought I was familiar with the term “on call”. This is the way I have always understood it:
So, as a computer consultant, I might be required to be on call in case, for instance, a client was installing new software and ran into trouble. This would mean that I would have to agree to be available immediately by phone or perhaps required to be able to be on sight within a certain amount of time to assist the client. On-call doctors, likewise, must be sober and able to respond within minutes should a medical emergency occur while they are on call.
At the time of the vote, I had understood that this provision was crafted as a way to compensate Public Works Deputy Joe O’Neil, whose job really requires that he be on call to deal with emergencies such as broken water pipes or snow storms, which his department would be responsible for.
Joe O’Neil is an outstanding city employee whose job really does subject him to the need to be potentially available twenty-four-seven.
Unfortunately, the language of the resolution was extremely poorly crafted, making it vulnerable to abuse. The problem was compounded due to the failure of Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi to properly monitor and manage this perk. At the time of the meeting, she told her colleagues that she would come up with additional parameters for the new perk and that she would assess the program and report on it quarterly.
In my FOIL request, I sought all documents regarding “on-call.” I received a copy of the resolution establishing on-call along with sheets submitted by the Deputies for payment. My FOIL produced no documents related to Sanghvi’s promises to produce parameters clarifying the new policy nor any documents establishing that she reviewed the program quarterly as she had promised at the February meeting.
I emailed her requesting a meeting on the issue.
She responded by directing me to the Human Resources office. I then wrote back to her asking:
Could she provide me with her quarterly findings?
Could she provide me with her suggested parameters for “on-call”?
As the resolution establishing ”on-call” was to go into effect on February 9, 2023, could she explain how Deputy Mayor Angella Rella was paid for being on-call for the month of January and the first week of February?
As the resolution calls for paying $125.35 a week for being on-call, how was the Finance Department calculating payments if someone was on-call for only a few days?
To date, I have not had a response to these questions from the commissioner. In our form of government, it is the responsibility of the director of finance to establish controls over city spending. These are serious questions that deserve proper answers. To refuse to respond raises grave concerns about what other breakdowns of oversight may be going on in her office.
This is the relevant language from the resolution that included establishing on-call:
Note that this benefit was supposed to only be used by deputies whose department had 24/7 response requirements and involved the necessity of being available to respond to emergency calls. [The final version was amended to remove the phrase “that is not operationally staffed 24/7” thus allowing the Public Safety Deputy to be eligible although Tetu never put in for this pay.]
What Constitutes On Call for a Deputy??
Consider this document from Deputy Mayor Angella Rella seeking payment for being “on-call”:
Saratoga County Court Tammy Mahan, 53, of Hudson Falls, was sentenced to 5 years’ probation after pleading to felony burglary, charged in Moreau. Lovell T. Roper, 30, of Manhattan, N.Y.C., pleaded to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth-degree, a felony, charged September 2020 in Moreau. Sentencing April 4. Emily Burke, 23, of Greenfield, was sentenced to 8 months local incarceration, after pleading to criminal contempt in the first-degree, charged June 2023. Jacob E. Saunders, 21, of Malta, pleaded to felony aggravated family offense. Sentencing April 12. Keenan Washburn, 22, of South Glens Falls, was sentenced to 5 years’…
BALLSTON Eastline Holdings LLC sold property at 1 Linden Ct to Benjamin Kalesa for $465,000 Garth Ellms sold property at 1053 Rt 50 to JBH Property Holdings LLC for $250,000 Emily Brown sold property at 328 Kingsley Rd to Chelsea Leach for $350,000 Debra Heller sold property at 65 Cornerstone Dr to Donna Belanger for $385,000 Traditional Home Builders and Developers sold property at 39 Mallory Way to Matthew Curran for $677,160 Barbera Homes Kelley Farms sold property at 20 Paddock Pl to Jessica Ruchlicki for $856,572 Brian Campoli sold property at 21 Mourningkill Dr to Patrick Rodman for $329,900…