NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 11, 2012

Blais, West Newbury reach deal

Final payment contingent on Town Meeting vote

(Continued)

Selectmen Bert Knowles and Dick Cushing have both strongly disagreed with the decision made when Atwood and Kemper were on the board not to renew Blais’ contract after questions were raised over the legality of annual bonuses for her that selectmen had apparently signed off on over the years.

Blais’ suit contended the real reason she was not rehired was a desire for retaliation by Atwood and Kemper for an alleged sexual harassment complaint she issued against McGrath in 2007.

In 2008, Blais and McGrath entered into a private grievance resolution, in which neither party waived or released their claims. McGrath resigned as selectman in the middle of his term in July 2008.

In March 2011, selectmen ordered a $25,000 forensic internal control review of the Finance Department. It revealed some cases of both overpayment and underpayment in a sampling of employee payrolls, but the state inspector general’s office cleared Blais of all allegations of legal wrongdoing eight months later.

Selectmen have not requested repayment from any employee who was identified in the audit as being overpaid, nor has the town reimbursed any employees who were identified as having been underpaid.

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