MVSD board approves Vigorito back pay without comment
By Jordan Cohen
Directors of the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District followed their legal counsel’s advice and unanimously voted to pay Anthony Vigorito, former plant operations manager, back pay despite his conviction for attempted forgery, criminal noncompliance and records tampering.
Vigorito, who admitted to charges related to the falsification of training certificates of Youngstown Water Department employees last December, will receive $15,318 for two months of previously unpaid administrative leave. The figure includes 4 percent interest as required by law, according to Thomas Wilson, board attorney.
The Vindicator reported Sunday a state statute requires back pay to civil-service employees for up to two months’ administrative leave as long as they are not convicted of a felony.
Vigorito’s guilty pleas were to misdemeanor charges instead of the original charges, which were felonies. The attorney said the statute left the board with no choice.
Wilson said Wednesday the law should be changed to prohibit such back pay whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, but unlike their legal counsel, three board members had no interest in expressing their views.
Chairman Vernard Richberg and directors James Gibbs and Richard Hale refused to disclose their personal opinions about the statute and back pay when asked to do so by The Vindicator.
The fourth, Michael Neopolitan, is new to the board having been appointed earlier this month.
Vigorito is serving a one-year probation, was fined $3,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
In addition to back pay, he has asked Judge Peter Kontos of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to order the board to pay him nearly $12,000 more in unused sick leave – a request the MVSD is contesting. The district has already paid the ex-operations manager more than $11,000. MVSD policy limits the amount to no more than half of the maximum allowed for accrued unused sick leave.
On another legal matter, chief Engineer Ramesh Kashinkunti said the district is working on specifications to begin the bidding process for repairs to the spillway of the Meander Reservoir dam.
The action follows rejection by the two judges of the district’s Court of Jurisdiction of a contract of more than $65,000 awarded to Norcon Corp. that was awarded without bid as an emergency.
The judges said the material presented to them did not support the existence of an emergency based on Kashinkunti’s comments that the sections of the spillway requiring repair “did not represent any structural impact.”
Wilson told the board there is no point in appealing the decision.
“It would go to the court of appeals, and that would take too long,” the attorney said.
Kashinkunti said the bidding process will take five weeks, followed by evaluation of the bids.
“We will have very tight specifications, [and] I believe we should be able to award the lowest and best bidder around the end of August,” the chief engineer said.
An executive session lasting 97 minutes delayed board action. Wilson would only say the session “involved a number of issues,” but he did not offer any specifics.