Town of New Paltz officials are in an interesting pickle: the person who’s heading up financial matters in town hall failed the civil service test intended to measure one’s ability to do the job. Rather than kick the town’s first comptroller to the curb, they are seeking to modify the official description of duties to reflect what comptroller Jean Gallucci is actually doing on a daily basis. It’s the latest twist in a story that dates back eight or more years.
When Susan Zimet ousted Toni Hokanson from the supervisor’s seat in 2011, it was discovered that town finances had problems flagged in a preliminary state audit, including money from the general fund being improperly used to shore up deficits in water and sewer districts. A town supervisor has the responsibility for the finances, and Zimet’s colleagues gave her more money for the time she spent resolving those issues. Council members, including Gallucci, worked to create a new civil service position of town comptroller to prevent problems like that arising again. Gallucci was the last person to serve as clerk-treasurer in the village before that position was split in two, and is believed to have contributed significantly to writing that new job description. She resigned from the town council in early 2015 after some months of low attendance, citing job obligations, but once the town comptroller position was approved by county officials, she applied and was hired for the job later that year. Council member Dan Torres cast the only vote opposing that hire, although Marty Irwin — who had been appointed to finish out Gallucci’s term — did express misgivings.
The existence of the comptroller was used as justification by Zimet to cut the pay for her successor with the final budget she prepared before leaving the supervisor’s office. While that decision was eventually rolled back, new supervisor Neil Bettez has been outspoken in his praise of Gallucci’s performance. All this time, however, she was serving in an interim capacity because the test for her new position was not yet available. When the test was finally given this summer, Gallucci failed it. Civil service rules call for the job to be given to someone who passed the test within 60 days, a deadline which passed on August 12 without anyone on the new civil service list even being canvassed as to whether they’re still interested.
Instead, a new description of Gallucci’s job has been submitted to the county personnel department for approval. According to the paperwork filed, this would be a new civil service position, for which a new test would then be created. According to Bettez, a discussion with Gallucci revealed that her day-to-day tasks do not, in fact, reflect the official duties statement filed in 2015 and that she does a “whole lot more” than simply filing financial reports. Per the new statement, the job is about 60% management, and only six percent of the total time is devoted to filing the annual report with the state comptroller’s office. Another ten percent is given over to internal audits, compliance and advising on matters of salary and benefits. Gallucci oversees the finance department as well as financial functions throughout the town, manages human resources and participates in collective bargaining.
The new position duties statement was included on the consent agenda during last week’s Town Board meeting, meaning that no member of the town council considered it worthy of discussion, including Torres and Irwin, the only ones who were on the board when Gallucci was first hired. A copy of the current description was not immediately available for comparison.