Niagara Gazette

January 29, 2014

Supervisor says Mike Johnson will not be hired as internal claims auditor

By Timothy Chipp timothy.chipp@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Lewiston Finance Director Mike Johnson’s tenure in Lewiston town government is coming to an end, at least according to Supervisor Dennis Brochey.

Lewiston’s new chief executive said he had a “long talk” with Johnson and the two agreed to a plan to see him step away gradually.

Brochey said he wanted Johnson to stay temporarily in order to secure a successful transition to his choice for the office, Paul Kloosterman, beginning Feb. 3.

“When Paul feels comfortable in his position and (Johnson) feels comfortable he has a firm grasp on what he needs to know,” Brochey said of when Johnson will vacate town hall. “It could take a few months. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Finance director and budget manager under former Supervisor Steve Reiter, Johnson was hired by the current town board earlier this month in a controversial move to serve as the town’s municipal internal claims auditor. It’s a position put into the town’s budget this past November by Republican board members following Brochey’s election.

At the time, former board member Paulette Glasgow questioned the creation of the position, noting her inquiries showed no other municipality in Niagara County employed a similar position, though one did exist in the Lewiston-Porter school district. 

As auditor, Johnson was scheduled to receive an annual salary of more than $43,000 plus full-time benefits. By comparison, Glasgow said in November, Lew-Port’s employee works once per month and collects an annual salary of $1,500.

A representative from the county’s civil service department did not return phone calls and messages seeking comment.

Johnson’s tenure in town politics has lasted nearly two decades as he’s served as a town councilman before budget officer. He said he’s loved his time in public service, happy with the accomplishments he’s achieved and hopeful his replacement is likewise successful.

He said he’s more than willing to assist in the transition to the new regime.

“I love Lewiston and still love Lewiston,” he said. “I’m going to help Dennis and Paul as much as I can in the transition. I think things will work out.”

Meanwhile, Kloosterman appears excited to begin his new role. A Niagara University graduate and certified public attorney, the Lewiston resident said he’s had no conversations with Johnson yet but is anticipating a quick turnaround.

“We’ve just got to see how it goes,” he said.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.