Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Council to convene Tuesday to ask McCoy to return extra pay

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 11:59 AM EST

VERNON — Every member of the 12-person Town Council has called for a special meeting Tuesday for to ask former Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy to return any money he took over his salary of $20,749.

While a special meeting requires the agreement of only seven council members, “we all signed,” Republican Deputy Mayor Brian Motola said today. “I think we’re unified. It’s a lesson we learned, and we move forward.”

The only proposed resolution on the agenda is that a certified letter be sent to McCoy, “requesting that he return any compensation in excess of that approved by the Town Council.”

McCoy collected $8,211 for his overtime during the cleanup of last winter’s snow, Hurricane Irene, and October’s snowstorm. But the resolution does not mention the “special-duty compensation,” as McCoy has described it, and it’s not known whether there were other instances in which he took payments over his salary.

McCoy could not be reached for comment today.

Democratic council member Marie Herbst said she anticipates all council members will vote to ask McCoy for the money back.

“I don’t think there’ll be much discussion, because we’re following the charter, which should have been followed to begin with,” Herbst said. “Hopefully our former mayor will return the money.”

Herbst said the charter clearly states that it’s up to the council to set the mayor’s salary, and “if he wanted to get additional money, he knew where to go. You go to the council, and nothing was ever reported to us.”

Motola said that when council members approved millions in storm cleanup funds, “we treated it more like a single object instead of like a budget item,” and didn’t delve into who specifically received payments. “The council is somewhat culpable in this.”

When asked whether he felt it was appropriate for McCoy to receive the payments, Motola said he thinks the mayor’s salary is too low and the storms represented an unusual circumstance that forced McCoy to put in long hours.

“Does he deserve the money? Yes,” Motola said, adding that, “I think where the fault is” is that the council was not aware of the extra pay. “In this instance, that’s where the oversight was, I think was lacking.”

There needs to be better planning for emergencies and a more defined procedure for compensating responders, but as for the resolution, “I think it’s just a step in solidifying a process for the future,” Motola said. “I think the anticipation is it’s going to be unanimous, but you never know.”

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