The town will pay highway department secretary Mary Lou Dengler $25,000 to retire following months of negotiations. Town officials never gave an explanation for why Dengler’s dismissal was sought, though sources have said it was a result of her not learning the department’s new computer program.
Darcy Snyder, who has been working with the department to administer federally-funded repairs to roads damaged by Hurricane Irene, will replace her.
The Town Board voted to ratify the buyout proposal and to hire Snyder at its regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb.20. Supervisor Kelly Myers voted against ratification of the agreement and abstained from voting on the appointment of Snyder. Councilman Jimmy Bruno voted against Snyder’s appointment, saying the position should have been advertised and that an applicant who had applied for the job interviewed.
Dengler said the Town Board members “have been very good to me.” However, she added, “I didn’t want to leave,” and said she would present her side of the story to the board.
Dengler said an allegation she had refused to take training in a new software program was untrue. “I was never offered the chance to take that course,” she said.
The specifics of Dengler’s retirement were not made public at the meeting, but Supervisor Kelly Myers said they would be available in response to a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request.
The “agreement with general release” runs to seven pages and specifies that Dengler is to receive a $25,000 settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, Dengler and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) agree to drop proceedings underway with the New York State Division of Human Rights and union grievances.
Under the terms of the agreement, Dengler is not to disparage the town or its officers, and agrees not to pursue any claims for discriminatory treatment under a long list of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
Under the agreement, the CWA acknowledges that the position of secretary to the highway superintendent is an exempt position – that is, it does not have to be posted – and that it carries a salary of $19 per hour.
In voting to affirm the agreement, board members praised Dengler. “I just want to wish MaryLou the best on her retirement,” Bruno said. Councilman Fred Costello said that “anyone who knows MaryLou knows that she has been such a ray of light, and she really took care of all those guys (in the highway department) for a long time. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her for some time, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I want to wish her the best in her retirement.” Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton recalled that when (former highway superintendent) Bernie Ellsworth was sick, Dengler was the board’s contact with the highway department. Councilman Bruce Leighton and Myers both wished her well. Costello praised her work with the FEMA grants and her general competence.
“I voted no because I did not like the way the personnel issue was handled,” said Myers. “I voted no because I wasn’t happy with some of the operational aspects – they specified the salary for the next person taking the job, there are a bunch of things operationally that I’m not OK with. The financial aspects of it were outrageous.”
Myers said Dengler’s replacement, Darcy Snyder, had done a tremendous amount of work managing the FEMA projects. “She jumped right in and has been very organized. Many of the federal representatives that we have been working with for FEMA reimbursement have been quite complimentary of her ability to track the projects.”
On the other hand, “I did hear very clearly from the public tonight that they would have wished the opportunity to interview for the position, and I do believe it should have been posted.” Myers acknowledged that the position is the decision of Highway Superintendent Doug Myer, “but I do believe it should have been posted and an interview should have been given.”