Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 25, 2013

In head engineer's absence, OT costs build in department

Niagara Gazette — The city’s engineering department employees have been working long hours since former City Engineer Jeffrey Skurka was fired.

The department employees have worked almost 890 hours of premium overtime earning a total of $47,670 since Skurka was fired by Mayor Paul Dyster in late April with senior engineer Robert Buzzelli, who has acted as supervisor of the department since Skurka was let go, taking the lion’s share of the bonus time, according to documents the Gazette obtained through a freedom of information law request.

Dyster said he knew there would be a jump in overtime after he fired Skurka, but he was alarmed by what he saw after asking his staff to gather the numbers.

“What we found there was that the use of overtime,” he said, “in particular for certain key personnel, was more than we had expected.”

The city paid Skurka $7,925 on June 8, his last check which included all vacation and sick pay, according to documents from the city’s human resources department.

Ruby Pulliam, the city’s equal employment opportunity officer, said Skurka is collecting unemployment though the city has appealed the department of labor’s decision to award him the benefit.

City council approved a request from Dyster to add $10,000 to the engineering department’s overtime budget during the May 28 council meeting.

In addition to the overtime, the city council approved a measure from Dyster allowing his staff to hire Greenman-Pedersen Inc. to act as the professional engineer on projects related to the city’s storm water pollution prevention plan, as Buzzelli is not a licensed professional engineer, a requirement of the state on most projects. The contract allows the consultant to perform up to $7,500 in work.

Dyster said he would like to hire more consultants to help reduce the workload for the engineering department until his administration is able to fill the position.

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