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Columbia building official faces termination

April 12, 2012 Local News No Comments

The Board of Selectmen had scheduled a termination hearing Tuesday (April 10) at a special meeting, but it was cancelled at the last minute. When asked why, Columbia First Selectmen Carmen Vance said “there was another incident,” and declined to provide details.

A town employee with a long history of disciplinary issues in Columbia faces possible termination, a decision expected to be made soon by the Board of Selectmen.

Alvan Hill, the town’s building official, started his position in Columbia in June 1999. His disciplinary issues in Columbia date back to at least August 2004, according to town officials.

An April 4, 2012 letter written by Town Administrator Jonathan Luiz to Hill addresses the most recent incident – it accuses Hill of claiming (and receiving) sick time pay from Columbia in February, time Luiz said Hill spent working for the Town of Ellington. Hill currently earns $32.60 per hour, and works 15 hours per week in Columbia.

According to an employee in Ellington’s human resources office,  Hill filled in for the full-­time building official there, Peter Williams. Hill worked there for two days a week for two weeks, she said.

Luiz said Hill’s union representative and Columbia Finance Director Beverly Ciurylo met with Hill on March 21 to discuss this incident.

Luiz states that Hill notified town staff on Feb. 21 that he would be unable to come to work the next morning because he was sick.

Luiz states that Hill later admitted he accepted an offer to work in Ellington that day.

In his April 4 letter, Luiz states:

“You did not acknowledge any wrongdoing for working for the Town of Ellington on a day that you had called in sick to the Town of Columbia… Rather, you said that you would have been better served by claiming a vacation day on February 22, 2012 instead of having put in for a sick day.

“I believe that you falsified your Town of Columbia timecard for the week of February 20, 2012, and that such falsification constitutes an act of theft against the Town of Columbia.”

Hill could not be reached for comment this morning and his administrative assistant, Cindee Hodge, declined to comment.

The Board of Selectmen had scheduled a termination hearing Tuesday (April 10) at a special meeting, but it was cancelled at the last minute. When asked why, Columbia First Selectmen Carmen Vance said “there was another incident,” and declined to provide details.

Vance, who has served as first selectmen since 2009, has been on the board since 2003 and has been involved in many of the disciplinary actions against Hill.

Luiz, who has been working in Columbia since 2008, has also disciplined Hill on numerous occasions.

Luiz said he expects the meeting to be rescheduled for a date in May and that before it is scheduled, Hill will meet with Luiz.

Per state statutes, Hill will have the opportunity to defend himself at that time, whether by himself or through legal counsel.

Selectmen also are expected to consider all other disciplinary issues Hill Luiz said he has had while working in town. Luiz declined to comment on why Hill was not fired for any of those incidents.

On May 5, 2011, Luiz sent Hill a letter claiming he failed to follow state building codes with respect to a building project at 112 Pine St.

According to Luiz, Hill issued a building permit for 112 Pine St. for a beam and closet rebuild.

Luiz states that he later discovered the construction work was much more extensive than what was covered by the permit. He said a full house renovation was done, including interior and exterior work.

Luiz said Hill should have required the applicant to resubmit plans to the town based on the actual level of construction.

At that time, Hill was issued a three-day “working suspension” in May 2011, meaning an employee still reports for work during that period, with pay, but the incident is reflected in the employee’s disciplinary record.

Luiz said this disciplinary action is used when there is no one else to fill in for the employee.

Previously, on Feb 23, 2011, Luiz sent Hill a letter regarding his failure to follow state building codes with respect to activity at 5 Homestead Lane. He was suspended for one day without pay for this incident.

Luiz said Hill issued a building permit to the owner/ applicant without required written approval from the Eastern Highlands Health District indicating the existing sewage system was satisfactory.

Luiz said Hill also approved a certificate of occupancy for construction that was not in compliance with the approved construction documents, and Hill failed to mandate the owner/applicant resubmit for town approval an amended set of construction documents.

Posted April 12, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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