New London law director sees no violation in proposed purchasing agent changes

New London - Reducing the purchasing agent to a part-time position is not a charter violation, according to the city's law director.

Attorney Jeffrey Londregan, at the request of the City Council, looked into a reorganization of the finance department that eliminated the purchasing agent position and two clerical jobs.

"... It is my opinion that the re-organization proposed by the Administration and Director of Finance does not violate the City Charter,'' Londregan wrote in his
May 9 opinion.

Early last week, the finance director and personal office gave notice to the three employees that their jobs were being eliminated as of July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. Finance Director Jeffrey Smith said the purchasing agent will become a part-time position and combined with a part-time accountant. The job descriptions for the two clerical workers will be rewritten and the pay lowered, Smith said.

The two clerks filed grievances last week against the city, alleging unfair labor practices.

Purchasing Agent William Hathaway, who has worked for the city for 19 years, declined to comment Friday.

On Monday, City Councilor Adam Sprecace questioned the legality of eliminating the purchasing agent, citing the charter, which in Section 68 says "the mayor shall appoint a purchasing agent who shall be an officer of the department of finance ..."

Londregan said in his opinion the language in the charter does not require the position be full-time.

"There are no provisions in Section 68 that prohibit the position from being combined with another position or limited in the number of hours the position will require," Londregan wrote.

The reorganization is expected to save the city about $50,000 a year.

On Friday, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio notified the employees officially that their jobs are being eliminated.

"I support the policy to create better efficiency in government,'' Finizio said, adding that the re-organization is not based on the workers' job performances.

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