Wilton attacks overtime expenditures in treasurer’s office

Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton addressed supporters at the launch of her campaign for state treasurer. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs

Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton addresses supporters at the launch of her campaign for state treasurer. VTD File Photo/Taylor Dobbs

Wendy Wilton, the candidate for state treasurer, is trying to find a soft spot in her opponent’s shell. The latest palpating exercise is alleged mismanagement of the office.

Wilton accuses Beth Pearce, the Democratic appointee to the treasurer’s post, of allowing one employee — the interim director of the state’s retirement program — to work more than 1,000 hours of overtime per year, for a three-year period.

The employee in question, Laurie Lanphear, worked in excess of 3,000 hours between 2010 and 2012. She earned $31,685 in overtime pay in 2012, on top of her annual salary of $58,281.

Wilton says the excessive amount of overtime is a sign of mismanagement.

“There is no doubt that overtime may be required occasionally to address specific issues such as seasonal spikes, emergencies or other unforeseen situations,” Wilton said in a statement. “But overtime as with all budget expenses must be managed and supervised in a responsible way. More than 1,000 overtime hours logged by one employee for three consecutive years is not adequate management.”

Lanphear, who is listed as a deputy director of Retirement Operations, is among the top five overtime earning state employees in 2012, right after Sgt. James Deeghan, the disgraced state policeman accused of fabricating timesheets and police tickets. Lanphear made about $27,777 in overtime in 2011 and $26,914.

Pearce’s campaign flatly denies the charge.

Overtime pay in the treasurer’s office has not led to budget overruns, Pearce says. Her office came under budget by $200,000 last year and $300,000 this year. Both years, the office has set aside $100,000 toward the emergency personnel survivor benefit fund. The total budget for treasurer’s office personnel is about $2 million a year.

Pearce says Lanphear’s overtime is the result of changes in personnel in the retirement division. She explains what happened by way of domino effect. Jeb Spaulding, who was elected state treasurer in 2010 was tapped by Gov. Peter Shumlin as secretary of administration.

Spaulding in turn brought Michael Clasen, the former director of retirement, with him to the Fifth Floor. Pearce, deputy treasurer, meanwhile, was appointed to state treasurer in Spaulding’s stead. Not long after, the state’s retirement policy specialist retired.

Two of the key retirement employees were not replaced. Instead, Pearce has been reshuffling positions, and Lanphear, a 15-year veteran of the office, has been asked to fill in where needed. As Pearce put it, “Laurie is doing the work of three people.”

Twelve employees work in the retirement division, according to Pearce. In addition to Lanphear, two retirement specialists also racked up between $7,200 and $9,800 in overtime last year. In all, Pearce oversees 35 workers in the state treasurer’s office.

Recently, Pearce decided to hire an assistant and to dole out the policy duties to the retirement specialists in the division.

It’s hard to find qualified retirement professionals, Pearce maintains, and so she said she plans to promote internally.

That means Lanphear’s overtime isn’t likely to fully abate any time soon. When asked whether she would put an end to overtime pay in the treasurer’s office, Pearce said: “We continue to manage office distribution and workload, and we continue to evaluate and allocate those resources as gear up the appropriate staff and training.”

Follow Anne on Twitter @GallowayVTD

Comments

  1. Bradford Broyles :

    Another point: there is a significant lack of transparency surrounding this issue (and others) in the State Treasurer’s Office. A volunteer with our campaign requested specific information about this project, under the Freedom of Information Act, on August 30 and again on September 6, directly from Treasurer Pearce. Until yesterday, when the press began to call her, there was no reponse to these inquiries, despite the fact federal law requires a response within 2 days. Much of Wilton’s success in Rutland is attributed to her relentless committment to transparency, a significant contrast to Pearce’s style of hide-and-seek with public information.

    The Wilton campaign debunked Pearce’s claim of reducing her staff payroll by $500,000 yesterday in a release widely disseminated. A FACT CHECK shows the treasurer’s total payroll has dwindled roughly $159,000 the last two fiscal years combined. Vermonters are owed a closer review of why an employee is working 20 extra hours a week for over three years time? Was the position in Retirement Operations posted throughout? What internal controls are in place as a backup in case the heavily worked and relied upon Lanphear calls it a day?

    • Ron Pulcer :

      Mr. Broyles,

      I am so glad that you are concerned about “transparency” and the “taxpayers’ dollars”!

      I realize that this article is about a Vermont State election. However I can’t help but wonder why Republicans nation-wide were not up in arms about how our tax dollars were squandered over the past decade, when the Republicans controlled the Executive Branch and both chambers in Congress? As a C-SPAN viewer, I know that there was PLENTY of military contract fraud and abuse of tax dollars in the War in Iraq, but little was done about it. “Off the Books” War Spending via Congressional continuing resolutions (Republicans never put the Iraq War spending in the budget)!!! The Medicare Part D law was yet another boondoggle of tax dollars. We The Taxpayers were RIPPED OFF!

      The Republicans don’t like Unions. I have never been a union-member, always an exempt salaried employee. But I have to say, BOTH political parties behave like Unions for Political Workers. The only difference is that worker-unions use collective-bargaining, while politician union members vote themselves raises, get a paycheck on taxpayers dime, union members in Congress get healthcare benefits via Federal employee healthcare exchange (while decrying Obama-care), and politicians are constantly raising money from Wall Street and big money donors (i.e. ALEC members).

      So as the Rutland County Republican Chair, or as I should say, the “UNION BOSS OF REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS, LOCAL 05701″, it is hard to believe your faux-concern about how our tax dollars are spent, when your national-level Republican Union members have ripped off the taxpayers, and not a peep from the “Republican Union Local 05701 Leader”.

      Since you and Ms. Wilton have endorsed Mitt Romney, just what exactly are you both endorsing? Will you be flipping and flopping on this issue in the coming weeks?

      http://www.mittromney.com/news/press/2012/02/mitt-romney-announces-additional-vermont-endorsements

      I consider myself a “fiscal conservative”, being the son of a frugal immigrant mother, but I would never join the Republican UNION of faux-fiscal-conservatives.

      • Bradford Broyles :

        Ron,

        I stepped down as Rutland County GOP Chairman after the last election cycle. I’m happy to have a chat about fiscal conservatism with you offline. Your post is so off topic I don’t feel it’s appropriate to respond here.

        Best,

        BB

        • Ron Pulcer :

          Bradford,

          According to above webpage link from MittRomney.com, dated Feb 29, 2012 (leap year), you are listed as “Rutland County Republican Chair”. The last election cycle was 2010. So maybe Mitt Romney’s web guys forgot to type in “former”.

          Yes, I may have over-reacted. State employee “overtime” is a valid issue to be concerned about. In fact, anything that involves tax dollars is fair game.

          However, this is an election year, and this seems to be somewhat of an election gotcha gimmick. I attended the Wilton / Mullin “Affordability Tour” in 2006, so I am familiar with these kind of election year tactics.

          As much as I try to vote based on individuals, it gets more difficult each election, as the two major parties get more divisive. The Republicans will tie local teachers to national NEA union, so it seems natural to me as a voter to tie local politicians to state and national party (on both sides of the aisle). It’s a two-party “System”, top to bottom.

          Offline discussion over a Long Trail fine with me.

          Ron

  2. Jimmy Fordham :

    Give it a rest Wendy!

    Too bad that Wilton doesn’t have any issues to run on…just like Brock. Wendy, you’ve lost already.

    Stop exaggerating and making up non existent issues.

    Wilton’s rantings really show how excellent Pearce is doing her job.

    And if you do more research you will find Wilton’s claim of reversing Rutland’s deficit is fictitious.

    When will the VT GOP ever learn that obvious distortions always bit you in the arse. Look at Romney & Ryan.

  3. It has been said before but it bears repeating. Overtime abuse in state government is rampant. If someone were to cross check the employees getting excessive overtime against the employees retiring within three years of that overtime I am sure the correlation would become evident.

    DPS has in the past been the worst with this as is now being seen with James Deeghan but from what I have seen it is a fairly common practice.

    • jimmy fordham :

      “It has been said before but it bears repeating”…is that a fact now? Based on hearsay?
      Did Wendy tell you?
      Really Andrew.

  4. Skip Perkins :

    Beth Pearce’s unethical tactics have history and roots. Believe me, I worked for this work place bully for six very long and grueling years.

    Beth Pearce always succeeds in swinging things in her favor, no matter what the cost. I don’t know how she does it, but she continues to get away with it. It may be of public interest to get a breakdown of the Retirement System Re-engineering Project costs that has been going on over the years; and probably where Laurie and others have been direct charging their OT…which does not reduce gross wages; but for financial purposes reclassifies it to another expenditure (“project costs”) rather than payroll costs. If the Treasurer’s office general fund and TF budgets looked like they might go over budget, she would find a way to increase the percentage of salaries dedicated to the project. She justified changing allocations of key directors and assistant directors…where the big bucks were. So of course overtime would not lead to budget overruns. By the way, the emergency personnel survivor benefit fund has nothing to do with this, it is a separate appropriation within the general fund budget.

    I am pretty sure that the “project” cost is way over budget. Funding for the “project” all comes out of the Special Funds budget, which is basically the accumulated earnings in each of the retirement systems based on a split which Beth conjured up.

    For the amount of money paid to Laurie they could have hired additional help within that office… but Beth plies her allies with $$$ she did it with Michael Clasen and is now doing the same with Laurie. It is shameful that she is allowed to do what she does.

    Beth Pearce is a smart woman when it comes to creative budgeting and skilled at creative management to avoid red flags. It’s time she was stopped from flying under the radar.

  5. Luci Stephens :

    Although the Galloway article didn’t mention it, a huge workload driver in the Retirement Division has been, and continues to be, the unprecedented numbers and rates of retirements from State service. This has been going on for several years now, and will continue for at least several more as baby-boomers continue to retire. When you factor that in with the great challenges State managers (in most departments) already face in obtaining authorization for new hires, and the ‘brain drain’ consequent to retirement, resignations and position shifts, the picture regarding necessary overtime becomes even clearer to those willing and able to see and understand. When competent, experienced State managers tell us there are not many people who have the knowledge, experience, skills and abilities/ motivation to do these necessary jobs RIGHT NOW (as opposed to weeks/ months in the future while someone gets hired and trained) they are stating facts.

    It’s distressing to see any political aspirant try to make ‘political hay’ by using the names of good, hardworking State employees who are not in a position to defend themselves from unwarranted innuendo and smears. Such conduct is likely predictive of future performance relative to working relationships with subordinates and peers. Believing that any such individual lacks the knowledge and experience on which to base his/ her various claims (for example, ‘I accomplished this monumental financial/ political feat all by myself’) simply ramps up my concern.

  6. joanie Maclay :

    Right on Luci..
    Oft times overtime is warranted, with many areas in VT State Gov’t.being short staffed the work still must be accomplished. Tell me folks, who will do the work when there is no one there. That’s it folks, overtime comes into play until someone can be hired and trained. Stop the barking and fault finding.

  7. I think, you have raised good point which many of us don’t know. Did you get justice?

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