Councilor Kounelis: Figures Inaccurate, Policy Requiring Computers Targets Her
Watertown's District A Councilor said she has been singled out and that figures in a report do not add up.
Inaccurate numbers were used to justify the need for Watertown town councilors to stop getting printed material, said Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis, the only one who got paper copies rather than receiving them electronically.
In January, the council voted to require all members to have a town email and laptop computer to receive materials - everything from memos to the information packet sent to councilors before meetings.
Kounelis said she felt that the move to require councilors to get all material by computer was targeted at her. She does not have a home computer and was the only member of the council who did not have a town-provided laptop, until the new policy was approved.
"I certainly felt that I was targeted and this was not the first time," Kounelis said. "Many councilors feel they can get away with these issues because no one is overseeing them. Other councilors going along to get along."
Other councilors argued that they already get information on their computers, and the new policy just formalized the current practice.
The main argument for getting rid of printed materials was the cost to the town, which was based on the pay rate for the printing and delivery of materials.
The original figures include paying the Town Council clerk $40 an hour to make copies, and police officers $70 and hour to deliver the Town Council packets. Kounelis said she checked with Town Auditor Tom Tracy and found the figures were much less.
"Based on (an email from Tracy) the administrative hourly rate is roughly $27/hour for actual pay," Kounelis wrote in a letter to her colleagues. "Not $40/hour as gpresented in the committees' report."
The rate for police pay was also much different, Kounelis said. She noted that she never got her packets deliverd by a police sergeant or lieutenant.
"A Watertown Patrol officer with an hourly pay range of $31-$43 may be more apt to deliver documents. The stated amount of $70/hour far exceeds the rate for the highest paid lieutenant."
Town Council President Mark Sideris said he also spoke with Tracy about the pay rates and said there is some difference based on employee's benefits and health care costs.
Kounelis said she did not think that those costs would add enough to reach the pay figures in the original report.
Sideris said he would further investigate the numbers to make sure they are correct. First, however, he will have to figure out the proper way to change the council report and minutes.
"I’m working with the town attorney to figure out how to do that," Sideris said. "We can attach her statement and what she wrote, but I would like to take it one step further."
Sideris said he does not think that the facts and figures from subcommittees are inaccurate.
"I’m fairly confident that the subcommittee is doing what it set up to do: do research," Sideris said.