In a recent post in the Talbot Spy, regarding Town of Easton personnel matters and policies, Al Silverstein states that he “is angry.”
Mr. Silverstein claims that the town paid two months of health insurance premiums for Mayor Willey and his wife, following the mayor’s retirement; that the “most highly paid” town employees have been exempted from required contributions to their health insurance coverage; and that the health care premiums for a “contract employee” – specifically, the town attorney – were paid in “violation of federal law.”
The Town Council years ago adopted a resolution authorizing retirement gifts for appointed officials, and the two month “retirement” health insurance premium that troubles Mr. Silverstein amounted to a grand total of $937.00 (after 32 years of service, an amount far below what is authorized).
The supposed “exemption” from responsibility for health insurance premiums is authorized by a Town Council resolution dating from 1976. Thereby, the town has authority to pay for health insurance for elected officials – a modest and well deserved benefit, as those elected officials are not “highly paid”.
Payment of health insurance benefits for the appointed town attorney (or any other appointed official) is common practice, and is not a “violation of federal law” as Mr. Silverstein claims. Indeed, such payments for health insurance of appointed officials – a widely accepted fringe benefit for most appointed officials in local government – specifically was authorized by a 1976 Town of Easton duly adopted resolution.
Taking his complaint further, Mr. Silverstein falsely characterizes the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, stating that unnamed “administrative and supervisory employees” have been “wrongly” receiving overtime pay. In fact, FLSA regulations specifically allow “exempt” employees such as supervisory personnel to be compensated for extra time worked, whether by way of a flat sum, a bonus payment or hourly overtime.
Finally, Mr. Silverstein’s claim that the town did not obtain approval of the Historic District Commission for the town hall remodeling is false. In fact, the town has a copy of the HDC decision approving the town hall remodel.
Al Silverstein’s failure to object publicly, and act when he could have, if he actually was troubled by these claimed indiscretions, should disqualify him from a return to elected office. The Town of Easton deserves better than this. Elect Bob Willey, a man of integrity, to serve out the open term of President of the Easton Town Council.