mason

Employment separation pending for town worker

Retirement planned for fall may come sooner than expected

A settlement has been proposed between Administrative Assistant Barbara Milkovits and the Town of Mason for a separation of employment that would make today her last day of work, after 24 years of serving the town, according to Milkovits. Milkovitz had planned to retire this fall.

The agreement comes in the wake of turmoil regarding Milkovits’ job status and responsibilities, during and since her return from medical leave.

“The selectman want me to leave this week — since I don’t work Fridays, Thursday is my last day,” said Milkovits in an interview Wednesday.

Select Board Chair Charlie Moser spoke Wednesday on the proposed agreement, saying, “We haven’t signed the dotted line, yet. We expect to finish that up by end of the week.”

Milkovits was on medical leave from October 2013 to mid-April, following a motorcycle accident in Pennsylvania. On Jan. 14, Milkovits attended a Select Board meeting, asking to return to her job part-time, but the board denied the request. At that time, the board declined to comment on the decision, saying it was a personnel matter.

While Milkovits was on medical leave, the Select Board restructured the jobs in the town offices. The board chose to divide the duties of administrative assistant and bookkeeper, hiring Brenda Wiley as a private contractor. Wiley is responsible for keeping the town’s books, something that was part of Milkovits’ duties before her medical leave.

On May 1, Milkovits presented the Select Board with a retirement letter, announcing the intent for her last day to be Nov. 1, per the town’s personnel policy, which requires six months notice. In the letter, Milkovits wrote that she had become “...painfully aware of how short and fragile life really is. While [my husband and I] still have good health, we want to take advantage of the last few good years of our lives, which has prompted this decision to retire.”

In the letter, Milkovits also expressed her willingness to train her replacement, as well as work as a contracted consultant following her retirement.

At a June 10 Select Board meeting, Town Clerk Debra Morrison expressed her concern about the town losing three key employees in a matter of months — Milkovitz, Milkovitz’s assistant, Martha Ward, and Road Agent Fred Greenwood. Ward retired upon Milkovits’ return from medical leave, while Greenwood resigned on May 10, citing in his retirement letter “...honesty and integrity are characteristics that are too easily abandoned in the face of any resistance and due diligence seem to be forgotten in the rush of political expediency.”

At the meeting, Morrison said that friction within the town offices led to the departure of the longtime employees, and cited “nasty emails, phone calls, and notes” allegedly written by the Select Board to town employees.

Morrison followed up her June comments with others portraying similar concerns on Wednesday, after finding Milkovits was leaving this week. “I’m disappointed in the Select Board’s actions and behaviors,” she told Ledger-Transcript staff. “They talk about trying to be transparent, but have never discussed with us the fact that Barbara is leaving or who will replace her. They don’t have anybody to take [Barbara’s] place that we are aware of. That job needs to be done.”

Dylan Fisher can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235, or dfisher@ledgertranscript.com.

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