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Choose route that costs less

February 12, 2012
The Leader Herald

It's unfortunate the former manager of the Gloversville Transit system is pursuing $34,000 from city taxpayers for what he says he was owed for overtime pay and other benefits.

It's difficult to understand why former Manager Al Schutz didn't deal with this issue at the time it occurred. The noble approach for Schutz would be to let it go and move on, but we all know such idealistic character is rare these days.

Schutz claims he's owed $31,175 in overtime pay for four years, $2,250 in longevity pay and a $900 clothing allowance. Schutz worked for the transit system from 2004 to 2010 and was paid $42,000 in 2010, when he resigned to become transit director in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

According to court documents, Schutz stopped receiving overtime pay in August 2006, and he estimates he worked 45 hours per week. It wasn't until May of last year he started formally asking for the money. Now, he's taking his case to state Supreme Court.

While we're disappointed to see Schutz pursuing this case, he actually may have a good one. Previously ambiguous city policies could be interpreted in his favor. He says that according to a 1998 city resolution, he was entitled to be paid 1 1/2 times his hourly rate per hour after he worked 40 hours in a week.

In October, the Common Council approved a new resolution replacing the one from 1998 to clear up the issue. The new resolution would have no bearing on Schutz's claim, however.

If the legal case continues, the city should do what would cost taxpayers the least. If the cost to fight the matter would exceed $35,000 in legal fees and the case is weak, the city should pay Schutz and be rid of him. Taking a stand on principle would not be in taxpayers' best interests. There are times when a settlement is necessary, and this may be one of them.

Let this issue serve as yet another lesson to local governments: Adopt specific policies and follow them strictly.



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