The Town Council was informed at its meeting Monday of a claim for severance pay for former Municipal Court administrator Joseph Tedino, who served as the town’s court clerk.
Tedino submitted a letter to Municipal Court Judge Michael DiChiro Jr., who forwarded it to Town Hall, requesting severance pay for 138 unused vacation days and 145 unused sickness/illness days for a cost of $59,223.39, as well as six months of paid health care on a family plan, for an additional $9,000, for a total severance package of $68,223.39. He further claims this money is owed to him within 30 days of separation, according to his contract. Tedino did not speak at Monday’s meeting.
However, in presenting this claim to the council, Mayor Joseph Polisena said the town has no record of a ratified contract for Tedino after 2001.
“The Town Council has sole responsibility for overseeing the Municipal Court in the town,” Polisena said. “The council appoints the judge and the judge appoints the court clerk, which the council must ratify.”
Tedino was not replaced as court clerk after the town swore in Municipal Court Judge DiChiro and Probate Court Judge Paul DiMaio at the inauguration. In addition to his work as a court clerk, Tedino volunteered his construction skills to convert the former Mohr Library into the current Municipal Courthouse. At the time, Polisena called Tedino “an asset.”
Polisena said the court clerk position is a two-year appointment that must be ratified every two years. Although Tedino was hired in October of 1995, Polisena says the 2001 contract is the only one on file in the town.
“The judge should have gone to the council every two years to re-negotiate that appointment,” Polisena said.
In his letter, Tedino claims his vacation and sick days are on file in the Municipal Court as well as in the town. However, according to Jennifer Goldberger, the town’s human resources director, she has no such records on file. Town employees are supposed to submit their time worked on a weekly basis, but according to Goldberger, Tedino would submit his only once a year.
Polisena said since the Town Council is responsible for overseeing the Municipal Court, the matter was brought before the council.
“Whatever is the pleasure of the council is what we’ll do,” he said.
“I’m not willing to approve anything without verification,” said council vice president Stephanie Manzi.
The council agreed it not only wanted to see verified records of Tedino’s claims, but also instructed Town Solicitor Billy Conley to look at the numbers and confirm the legality of the contract in question since there are no town records of a ratified contract after 2001.
“I will look for confirmation of whether the contract he’s relying on is in effect anymore,” Conley said.
Polisena said he was proud of the council for exercising its due diligence.
“This money belongs to the taxpayers, which is why the council is doing its due diligence,” he said. “Billy Conley has his marching orders to look at the dates and determine what’s legal and will report back to the council, which will instruct us how they want to proceed at the next meeting.”