Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
McCoy attempts to give back half of storm compensation, but officials return money

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 11:47 AM EST

VERNON — Former Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy attempted to return $4,030 of special-duty compensation, but the offer was rejected after the Town Council last week decided it would not ask him for a refund.

“He didn’t return any of it. … We weren’t requesting the money to be returned,” Republican Mayor George F. Apel said today. “So I think that closes the case.”

McCoy agreed to answer a reporter’s questions in an email to the Journal Inquirer following the council’s meeting Tuesday, but did not respond when asked if he had returned any part of the $8,211.40 in special-duty payments.

McCoy collected $2,430 in overtime pay following several building collapses in February 2011, $1,751.40 on Sept. 30 following Hurricane Irene, and $4,030 on Nov. 18 for the October snowstorm.

Town Administrator John D. Ward and former Assistant Town Administrator Peter Graczykowski authorized the payments, using an opinion from town labor lawyer Edward “Bud” O’Donnell to justify the expenditure.

The additional “emergency pay,” as Ward described it, was equivalent to 40 percent of his annual pay as mayor.

McCoy, a lawyer who is hoping to run for U.S. Senate, is facing nearly $200,000 in personal and business debt.

The council held a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10, with one item on the agenda: a request for McCoy to return any compensation collected in excess of his $20,749 salary.

But after public comment, which included a legal argument detailing the council’s culpability and liability by Town Attorney Harold Cummings — who said he was speaking as only a resident — the council unanimously decided to let McCoy keep the money and avoid a lawsuit.

McCoy spoke in his defense at the meeting, holding up the $4,030 check he received after leaving office following the October storm and November election and offering to give it back to the town, but left before the council came to a final resolution.

“He did give the check to one of the town officials at that special meeting,” Apel said, but “he left before the actual motion was put on the floor that was then amended.”

The check was mailed to McCoy on Wednesday because “it probably wasn’t appropriate for us to be requesting the money back,” Apel said. “It just didn’t make sense for us to accept the check.”

Instead, the council unanimously instituted a clarified policy stating that it must approve any compensation to the mayor aside from salary and reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenditures.

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