City faces criticism for delays in paying back wages to employees

CORTLAND, N.Y. – City officials are facing criticism for delaying payments to 89 employees who are owed nearly $300,000 in back wages and compensatory time off.

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An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor found that from September 2012 to September 2014, the city of Cortland failed to pay proper overtime to 89 employees, totaling more than $295,000. The city has a total of 160 employees on payroll.

Derek Reynolds, president of the Cortland Professional Firefighters Association, addressed city officials during a meeting of Common Council Tuesday night.

Reynolds provided council members with copies of a response he received late last month from a Department of Labor official regarding a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he filed in August.

“As of September 28, 2015, our records indicate that the City of Cortland has not made any payments toward their back wage obligation as a result of this investigation,” Robert McMonagle, a compliance enforcement officer with the U.S. Department of Labor, said in an email to Reynolds.

“You have asked me to provide documentation, and here it is,” Reynolds told members of Common Council Tuesday night.

After subsequent meetings between city officials and DOL representatives, the city agreed in March to pay the back wages, according to the FOIA request.

Richard Van Donsel, corporation counsel for the city of Cortland, told a DOL official during a March meeting that the city’s payroll system will be changed to come into compliance with Fair Labor Standards Act requirements.

Van Donsel could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

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