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Erie County comptroller says health commissioner has been collecting OT illegally

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw wearing a gray jacket and red plaid shirt
Stefan Mychajliw
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw took to Twitter Tuesday to issue his report.

A report issued Tuesday by outgoing Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says county Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein has been illegally collecting overtime pay during the pandemic.

The comptroller maintains that since Burstein is an appointed, rather than elected, county official, under state law she is not eligible to earn overtime.

The report says Burstein has earned a combined total of $336,148 in overtime and comp time during 2020 and 2021 and that it needs to be paid back to the county.

Mychajliw also maintains that as a medical doctor, the current CSEA union contract with the county prohibits “employees who are required to have a medical degree” from receiving overtime.

At his briefing Tuesday afternoon, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the claims are untrue, noting all overtime payments for work done in relation to the COVID-19 response are valid and acceptable under federal, state and local law, and that all Erie County employees, except for elected officials, are entitled to collect it.

Poloncarz added that as an appointed official, Burstein is not under the CSEA contract and that county officials' COVID-19 activities are federal CARES Act eligible, including overtime.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.