Oct 10


Fire clerk still not working, but getting paid

Ordered back to work after drawing pay for 7 1/2 years while under suspension, Jill Repman is using vacation, sick and personal leave time to delay her return to the Buffalo Fire Department.

Jill Repman was called back to her job with the Buffalo Fire Department last month after seven and a half years on paid leave that cost taxpayers nearly $600,000.

She immediately went on vacation, according to city payroll records. 

Repman used four days of her accumulated vacation time to extend the paid Labor Day holiday to a full week.

The following Monday, she called in sick. 

Then she took a couple personal days, followed by another sick day, followed by another personal day.

All told, Repman — formerly known by her married name, Parisi — didn’t work a single day for the City of Buffalo in the first two weeks of September.

Repman is a senior administrative clerk whose duties, back when she was working, included managing the fire department’s payroll. She was suspended in February 2016, after being accused of improperly reducing federal deductions from her paycheck in order to increase her biweekly take-home pay.

But Brown’s law department never pursued the administrative charges it lodged against Repman seven years ago. 

Instead, as Investigative Post reported last month, the city put her on administrative leave and kept paying her, even after she took a job in the private sector, managing payroll for a local healthcare company. 

After we began making inquiries in mid-August to Mayor Byron Brown’s spokesperson and other administration officials about Repman’s employment status, the fire department called her back to work.

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Under her union’s contract with the city, Repman was paid longevity and perfect attendance bonuses while on paid leave. She received the same raises given her fellow union members and accrued pension benefits as if she were showing up to fire headquarters every workday.

Repman, 56, was able to bank up to 40 days of vacation time, too. 

Theoretically, she could use those accumulated vacation days — in tandem with contractually permitted sick and personal days — to stay out of the office until Nov. 21, which will mark her 29th year of employment with the city.

In response to Investigative Post’s reporting on the Repman situation, Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski — chair of the Council’s Civil Service Committee — asked the city comptroller to perform an audit to ascertain how the city’s department heads use paid leave and how much it costs. 

In response, Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams instructed her staff to perform “an investigation” to determine if a full-blown audit was warranted. That investigation is ongoing, Kevin Kaufman, the city’s chief auditor, told the Council last week.

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Meanwhile, Brown announced last week that the city would begin creating reports each pay period detailing how many city employees in each city department are on various kinds of paid leave. Department heads “will … work to remove employees from paid leave status as soon as possible,” according to a press release announcing the new practice.

The first such report will be created this week, according to Delano Dowell, the city’s finance commissioner. City paychecks go out this Thursday.

The mayor’s spokesperson, Michael DeGeorge, refused to answer questions for this story, as he has refused to respond to all inquiries about Repman for the past two months, calling it a “a personnel matter.”

The mayor, too, has ducked questions about Repman.

“Oftentimes difficult to talk about personnel matters — complicated personnel matters,” Brown told a reporter from our partners at WGRZ News shortly after Investigative Post’s first report on Repman. 

“The person was out on administrative leave for a long period of time. They are now back working.”

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