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Demoted town workers appeal

Two Town of Colonie employees who were demoted last month filed separate appeals Friday, Dec. 19, challenging the town's decision to demote them to positions with lower salaries.

William Neeley and Thomas Romano were demoted after town officials held several hearings to determine their involvement in a controversial paving job at the West Albany Rod and Gun Club.

Neeley's and Romano's appeals challenge the demotions, as well as the findings of guilt, and the decision to create a harsher penalty than the one recommended by a hearing officer.

According to United Public Service Employees Union Regional Coordinator Kathy Wright, who is representing the employees, the separate but identical appeals will not likely see a reply until at least the end of January due to the holidays.

Last month, Neeley, formerly the town's public works operations supervisor, was demoted to senior civil engineering technician. With his demotion came a $13,176 pay cut. Romano, formerly a highway maintenance supervisor, was demoted to civil engineering technician. With his demotion came a $9,804 pay cut.

The town is holding the men responsible for an incident that occurred at the Rod and Gun Club in spring 2007, when town equipment and employees were used to pave the parking lot using spoils, a composite material of debris, dirt and tree bark.

The paving job was later audited by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and determined to be completed in a manner that was in the best interest of town taxpayers. The results of DiNapoli's audit were released in June.

The job was completed under the previous administration, but after taking office nearly a year ago, Supervisor Paula Mahan has been looking into the legality of the work. In his audit, DiNapoli concluded that there was nothing illegal about the paving job, but there were better ways it could have been handled.

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