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New York State Capital Dealing With Council Payment Issues

New York’s capital is in the middle of financial disputes related to timekeeping and payment legalities.

Across the country, the U.S. economy loses an estimated $7.4 billion each day (about $50 million) due to improperly filled out timesheets. In Albany, a former Common Councilman, Judd Krasher, wants the state capital to stop issuing additional pay to current council members who have served for five or more years, despite the designated workday prompting their eligibility.

“Given this failure on behalf of city taxpayers by payroll and the city treasurer, I implore you to begin an audit of longevity buyouts,” Krasher said. “The situation is particularly dire given our ongoing fiscal problems, including financial aid requests being made to the state.”

Krasher previously represented the 11th Ward and stated that part-time Council members should not have received longevity payments because it is illegal — he even requested assistance from Susan Rizzo, an Albany Auditor, to investigate.

During 2016 and 2017, eight Albany elected officials were issued longevity payments ranging from $550 to $850, before taxes, totaling approximately $5,450.

“They are considered full-time employees because they work 30 hours per week, and they meet the standard,” said Brian Shae, Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s chief of staff. Shea, who passed a resolution back in 2014 that set the standard work day to only six hours, which makes council employees eligible for city payments, pushed back at Krasher’s criticism. “The city is confident that these longevity payments are consistent with both the city charter and the city’s personnel policies.”

Krasher initially targeted Common Council President Pro Tempore Richard Conti because Conti, who claimed that he used it to give back to the city and community, received longevity payments back in 2014 as well.

“It’s a matter of choice, what people want to do,” Conti said.

According to WAMC, the Council, which now has several new faces after the recent November elections, will consider longevity payments, outstanding balances, and previously authorized bonds. Albany is planning on borrowing millions to fund more than 20 community and government incentives.