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Union Board Split on Newly Appointed Town Clerk

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TOWN OF UNION, N.Y. -

Members of the Town of Union Board say they are still split on the decision to appoint former Councilman Leonard Perfetti to the position of Town Clerk.

Perfetti was one of four finalists considered for the position currently held by Gail Springer.

Mack and Sotak said two Town of Union deputy clerks and a non-Union employee were also being considered. 

But at a July 26, 2017 special meeting, the board chose Perfetti for the position. The vote was  3-to-1; Board members Thomas Augostini, Frank Bertoni, and Robert Mack voted "yes" with Sotak having the dissenting vote. 

Sotak says other candidates were more qualified:

"I think we had two good employees who were looking for this position," said Sotak. "They've been here for 20 years, excellent attendance records, very good work ethics, never a complaint about them, I've seen them in action taking care of the Town of Union residents and in my opinion, they had a good vision of how to run the Town of Union."

Councilman Mack defended the Board's decision.

"He [Perfetti] has run two successful campaigns to be elected councilman and we want to make sure the TOU Clerk is someone that we want to work with and is going to do a good job," said Mack.

"I'm not sure why they chose me over the other employees, but I will definitely run a good Department and the employees will be number one," said Perfetti.

Sotak told Fox 40 Wednesday that board members rushed the vote and didn't thoroughly consider the other candidates during discussion at a work session before the July 26 vote.

During the selection procession, the board members and Sotak had separate meetings with all four finalists and the group was scheduled to discuss the candidates at a follow-up meeting. That meeting never happened.

Mack said it was canceled because he and another board member were out of Town, but says the discussion happened at the start of the work session.

"During the work session, we talked it out and three of the Councilmen were in agreement that it was going to be Mr. Perfetti," said Mack. He adds that Sotak was upset because "she seemed to think that she wasn't part of the decision, but her vote wasn't necessary either way."

And, while both Mack and Perfetti acknowledged Sotak had the right to vote, they wished she hadn't.

"I guess that's Rose's option to do so, I thought she would've supported him more," said Mack.

"That's her personal opinion," said Perfetti.

In April, Sotak was indicted on five criminal charges, which were later dropped in July. In that time, Union has changed its policy on how to handle workplace harassment complaints and trained employees on proper workplace conduct.

Now, Sotak believes the board is contradicting their previous stance and letting down the Town Employees by choosing a board member over other, more qualified applicants.

"In my opinion, when you're supporting the employees that are working here with a track record and you take a Board Member, you'll have to ask the other Board Members what qualifications he had that was so overwhelming versus some of the other candidates," said Sotak.

Mack argues the protection of employees was specifically for workplace harassment and not for job placement.

"The protection was from harassment and bullying, but this is not any situation like that," said Mack.

Perfetti says he felt the position was a good fit for him and is coming up with ideas for database collection as part of his new role.

"My business background, being an outsider and looking at a lot of the old processes being done in the Town and I'm hoping to streamline a lot the old processes and get things much quicker and more efficiently," said Perfetti.

Mack says some of the major contributing factors for choosing Perfetti over the other candidates was his 35 years of Customer Service with NYSEG and 7 years as a Council Member on the Town of Union Board.

"Those two things were the major factors in Mr. Perfetti being qualified for this position," said Mack. Perfetti has also held positions on Boards for the Parks, Highway, Laws and Legislation Committees in Union.

Mack added the upcoming election in November also played a factor in the Board's decision.

"If someone else wins Clerk, other than someone we appointed, they can come in and clean out the office," said Mack. "They get the right to choose every employee in that Office because they are an elected official, so we take a very big chance in appointing someone who may not win an election."

According to Mack, the Clerk's Office has two Full-Time employees - both are the Deputy Clerks that were passed on for the job - and one Part-Time worker as well. Mack says Perfetti has agreed to keep those three employees.

Perfetti will make $48,900 according to the Special Meeting Minutes. The former Town Clerk, Gail Springer, was making  $57,000 after nearly 20 years in the position. Her paycheck was split between two lines, Registrar ($3,500) and Town Clerk ($53,800). Mack says they dropped the Registrar position and combined the salaries. 

He deducted the salary by around 15% and offered that to Perfetti who accepted. Mack says Springer was offered the same 15% salary reduction deal that Perfetti was when she was first offered the position.

As far as who will replace Perfetti on the Board, he's not sure what the Board will do.

"That's the Board's decision and they have to do the searching for that decision," said Perfetti. He resigned from his position on the Board the same day he became the Town Clerk. He no longer has voting power on the Board and will not be involved in their decision to pick his replacement.

Mack says August 4 was the last day for people to apply for the vacated Board seat and the Board has been conducting interviews this week. He says they are down to two candidates - a man and a woman - but wouldn't release their names for confidentiality purposes.

The Board has scheduled a Special Meeting during the Work Session on August 15 to vote and appoint a new Board Member.