Saratoga Springs clerk suspended, faces possible firing
SARATOGA SPRINGS The city took steps on Monday to fire a city clerk in the Accounts Department who had earlier been placed on paid leave in the wake of complaints she made about possible irregularities in condominium assessments.
Mary Zlotnick was presented with a written notice from Accounts Commissioner John Franck saying the city is taking disciplinary action against her.
She was given a list of charges against her and placed on a 30-day suspension without pay “pending a hearing to terminate your employment,” according to Franck’s letter.
Zlotnick said she could not discuss the charges against her on Monday. She said last week that the disciplinary actions being taken against her were clearly related to complaints she made about the Accounts Department’s assessment practices.
Franck, who did not attend Monday’s meeting, said he could not comment on the personnel matter. He referred questions to Mark J. McCarthy, a lawyer for Harris Beach PLLC, the law firm that the city hires as labor counsel.
“You can’t fire a public employee without a hearing,” McCarthy said about the pending hearing.
He would not release the list of charges against Zlotnick but said she is entitled to be represented by a lawyer of her choice at the hearing.
McCarthy said Monday’s action against Zlotnick is in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the Civil Service Employees Association (CESA) Local 1,000 at City Hall.
At the upcoming termination hearing, the city will present its charges against Zlotnick and she and her attorney will be able to respond, McCarthy said.
A disciplinary hearing was held Aug. 17 in City Hall regarding allegations that Zlotnick was insubordinate with her superiors. She had been placed on a one-week unpaid suspension in June. After the Aug. 17 hearing, she was placed on paid administrative leave until Monday.
Zlotnick believes the disciplinary action taken against her is connected with complaints she has made for more than a year about activities by the city’s assistant assessor, Anthony Popolizio, and businesswoman Diane C. Young of DCY Consultants in Malta.
Zlotnick alleges Popolizio has “coached” Young in her attempts to get the assessments of condominiums and some homes reduced. She claims Popolizio told Young, who charges a consulting fee for helping clients have their assessments reduced, “where to go and where to solicit business.”
Zlotnick’s complaints have been reported to the state Attorney General’s Office.
During this earlier disciplinary hearing, McCarthy said Zlotnick talked about her complaints and said she reported what she considered irregularities in the way condominiums were assessed by Popolizio to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“She presented the charges two or three different times, going back well over a year,” McCarthy said last week.
“She doesn’t understand what she is talking about,” McCarthy said. He said the city has investigated the allegations and found them without merit.
The city Accounts Department, however, is again reviewing all the cases in question and will make corrections if necessary, Franck said last week.
Zlotnick, who has worked in the Accounts Department since December 2010, is paid $34,000 per year, according to city payroll records.
Franck said last week a state law dating from the mid-1960s requires condominiums to be assessed and taxed like rental apartments. Condominiums have flourished in Saratoga Springs in the past decade, with people spending more than $1 million for some luxury units, but state law requires the units to be valued only for what they would return in rent.