Agency says former planner due $8.2K
HIGH SPRINGS – The City of High Springs convened in a shade meeting on Aug. 2 to discuss an ongoing lawsuit with former city planner Christian Popoli. In July, the City was notified by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) that the department had ruled in Popoli’s favor concerning his claim to overtime pay owed him by the City.
Initially, the DOL ruled that Popoli was due $2,057 for unpaid compensation and flex time. However, after the former city planner contested the hours, the DOL increased the amount to $8,209.
“In order to avoid a full investigation, which would be very detailed for all employees, the investigator is requesting that we pay for the uncompensated time immediately,” High Springs City Manager Jeri Langman wrote in an email to commissioners.
In addition to Popoli’s unpaid wages, the investigator suggested the City pay back wages or compensation time to current salaried employees or past employees as far back as two and a half years if they have earned it.
According to Langman, the decision will affect the following employees: Jenny Parham, Helen McIver, Bruce Gillingham, John Morrison, Steve Holley and Jeri Langman, as well as former employees James Drumm, Verne Riggal, James Troiano and William Benck.
For current employees, she recommended paying each employee on a bi-weekly basis so the City does not accumulate an outstanding balance year’s end.
In order to cover the costs associated with the DOL’s finding, the City’s contingency fund for this fiscal year will be affected, as well as departmental budgets in the upcoming fiscal year budget.
Due to the ongoing litigation, the city commission has not discussed this issue during an open public meeting.
However, in an email, Commissioner Linda Gestrin advised Langman to seek a second opinion from an attorney before any direction is given regarding paying employees.
City Clerk Jenny Parham responded to Gestrin’s inquiry by stating Langman intended to contact an employment attorney and inform the commission prior to paying the compensation time.
As of Aug. 8, Popoli still had not received the money. Based on the shade meeting, Popoli said he believes the City will try to fight the ruling.
“I’m not shocked,” he said. “But I rather hoped that once the DOL made the recommendation that they [the City] would follow through.”
In lieu of suing the City, Popoli had earlier requested a $147,000 severance package. The City denied his request.
After working for the City of High Springs for six years, Popoli was laid off, with his salary savings earmarked to fund a newly created city engineer position. Popoli applied for the job, but during an April 12 commission meeting Mayor Dean Davis raised doubts about Popoli’s qualifications as a city engineer.
Popoli expects that his attorney Linda Chapman will be filing a lawsuit against the City in the coming weeks.
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