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State asks town to recover $234,000

"I don't know, I haven't thought about it," she said. "If I did, it's, skipping my mind."

McCoy said that about 20 years ago, former town supervisor Lou Tessier created a line in the budget called "Title Pay" which over the years included specific extra amounts above base pay and longevity stipends for certain employees, based on merit, educational certification, or extra work details.

In past years, some of these stipends were not formally approved by the town board, and at times, certain board members may not have been aware of them, McCoy said.

The public might not have been fully aware of the stipends, either.

The title pay amounts were not listed in pay ledgers published for the public and approved in annual organizational meetings, McCoy said. They were only listed in an aggregate sum under a special budget code, town officials said.

McCoy said these extra stipends, over the most recent five years that the auditors were focusing on, accounted for $234,000 - and perhaps far more if the auditors had taken all 20 or more years and examined all the town's employees payroll records, rather than just 20 employees records.

"These were not indiscriminate raises," McCoy said. "Title Pay" was awarded to those who deserved it based on performance, extra training, or working above and beyond expectations."

Former Lake George Town Supervisor Lou Tessier defended his practice of awarding the extra stipends.

He said that Title Pay was awarded based on extra work performed or additional responsibilities. he said it was a way to assure that new employees would not start out at the higher pay levels earned by those employees who retired.

"Our employees were paid well, and they provided good services to the town's residents," Tessier said. "They got paid what they deserved."

He said that the state should have voiced their objections to Title Pay years ago in three audits performed over 26 years. He said an auditor hired by the town over many years had no objection to the practice either.

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