HUDSON — The Common Council voted to reinstate Assistant Treasurer Matthew Parker’s stipend following a notice of legal action from Parker after the council voted to remove his stipend from the 2021 budget, the only change made at the council’s final budget review.
The council passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing Mayor Kamal Johnson to enter a settlement agreement resolving Parker’s claims and for Treasurer Heather Campbell to add a $1,619 stipend to treasury personal services.
With Parker filing a notice of claim against the city, it is in the city’s best interest to resolve the claim with minimum cost and disruption by allowing Johnson to enter a settlement agreement reinstating the stipend and settling all current and future claims by Parker related to the matter, according to the resolution.
But Parker said Wednesday he has not seen the settlement agreement. City attorney Cheryl Roberts told him he would see the agreement before Tuesday’s meeting, he added.
“I’m still waiting to see whatever this agreement is that they would like me to comply with,” Parker said Wednesday. “I was promised that before the meeting, but I have not received it as of yet, so I can’t say that I would be signing it or not.”
Roberts is drafting the agreement and Parker should receive it shortly, she said Wednesday. She decided to get council approval to settle the matter before drafting the agreement and does not foresee any issues settling the matter, she said. But Parker was not made aware of Roberts’ change in plan, he said.
The council voted to remove Parker’s stipend of $1,619 from the 2021 budget Nov. 19 before approving the general fund. No other changes were made.
Parker’s base salary for treasury bookkeeping, according to his contract, is $47,582, an amount stated in the department’s budget documents.
As a city employee, he receives a $3,500 health insurance buyout and $969 retroactive longevity pay. Under the current contract, city employees are entitled to $1,500 longevity pay every five years, Parker said. These base amounts are part of a contract lasting until the end of 2021, Parker said.
The assistant treasurer has received a stipend for at least 20 years, likely more, Campbell said Nov. 20, the day after the council voted to cut Parker’s stipend. Parker received a stipend of $1,623 in 2020, according to City Clerk Tracy Delaney.
The city charter allows the treasurer to appoint an assistant who possesses the power to perform the duties of the treasurer when the treasurer is not able to. The position carries a larger responsibility than a clerical role. Prior to the pandemic, Parker would fill in for Campbell if she was on vacation or sick, and since working from home, he has signed documents she normally would, he said.
Parker said he intended to pursue legal action the day after the council voted to remove his stipend.
The decision to remove Parker’s stipend came a couple days after a Nov. 17 executive session regarding treasury personnel and emails sent to the council.
All members of the council except 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante and 5th Ward Alderwoman Eileen Halloran approved Parker’s pay cut and the budget as a whole on Nov. 19. Both felt there was not enough information to justify Parker’s cut.
“It just seems to have come out of nowhere,” Halloran said during the Nov. 19 vote, adding she wanted to know more context.
She needed more facts, Halloran said the next day.
“There was some information that people shared with me verbally and said, you know, their version of what happened and what has or hasn’t been done, but it was loose and quick,” Halloran said.
During the Nov. 19 budget discussion, Merante asked if there was a rationale for the cut.
“It’s not necessary,” Common Council President Thomas DePietro said. “We talked about it in executive session the other night, so it’s probably better we don’t.”
The subject was discussed in executive session because it’s a personnel issue, DePietro said.
“At this time I don’t see the rationale or any kind of proof or justification for this reduction,” Merante said during the vote.
A lack of proof in what was discussed during the executive session made Merante uncomfortable joining the council in approval, he added Nov. 20, the day after the vote.
“That was obviously a jab,” Parker said the day after the vote. “There were no other cuts made. Fifteen hundred dollars is pretty inconsequential in a budget this size.”
The approved general fund, with the $1,619 stipend removed, is $11,854,838, according to city budget documents.
“I’m not going to be bullied, so I intend on fighting this,” Parker added that day.
Johnson said the decision to cut Parker’s stipend is up to the council.
“That’s the council’s decision,” Johnson said in November. “I did my part with the budget and it’s in their hands to make their decisions.”
Campbell’s comment regarding the council’s decision was brief. “I think the action speaks for itself,” she said the day after the budget vote.
If Parker does not receive his stipend following legal action, he will continue his responsibilities as Assistant Treasurer, he said Nov. 20.
“I will continue to do the job because it’s in the best interest of the city that our office continues to function at 100% as it has since we shut down in March,” he said.