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May 2, 2013 10:02 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Village Clerk Appointed In Westhampton Beach; Board Also Hires Former Clerk As Consultant

May 3, 2013 9:45 AM

A new clerk has assumed the reins in Westhampton Beach Village following the departure this week of Rebecca Molinaro, who has been at the center of a payroll error controversy for months.

Elizabeth Lindtvit, 54, who was serving as the deputy clerk/treasurer under Ms. Molinaro, took over her position on Wednesday, May 1, after being appointed by Mayor Conrad Teller late last week. In her new role, Ms. Lindtvit, who will make $78,635.51 annually, will oversee the village’s payroll and finances, and be responsible for maintaining all records. She will also be charged with overseeing the village election each June.

For the past two years, Ms. Lindtvit has served under Ms. Molinaro, assisting with the budget and payroll.

"I have the best interests of the village at heart," Ms. Lindtvit said. "The fact is that I have been here. I worked with Becky and I know the inner workings of the village government. I am a village resident and I am a taxpayer."

Also last week, the trustees hired another former clerk, Kathleen McGinnis, to help train the new clerk at a rate of $60 an hour, up to $7,500 total. The hiring divided the board, with Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker and Village Trustees Patricia DiBenedetto and Charlie Palmer approving the measure and Mr. Teller and trustee Ralph Urban opposing.

Ms. McGinnis, who trained Ms. Molinaro before retiring in 2010, was hired prior to Mr. Teller announcing who will succeed Ms. Molinaro. At a board meeting on April 4—when the idea of hiring Ms. McGinnis was first suggested by Mr. Tucker—Ms. Lindtvit, who was sitting in the audience, stood up and shouted: “I will not work with her.”

She declined to comment on Ms. McGinnis’s appointment this week, or what prompted her outburst last month.

When reached on Tuesday, Ms. McGinnis said she does not foresee having any issues with Ms. Lindtvit, whom she will now help train.

“I am sorry she feels that way, but the trustees feel very strongly that it is important to have strong leadership and oversight, and, apparently, given all the discontent regarding the financial issues, it is a good idea,” Ms. McGinnis said. “I have never had any problems when I was the village clerk/treasurer overseeing Ms. Lindtvit so I don’t see there being any problem now.”

She added that she has been enlisted during what is a very busy time of year for the village, and that she will work to help get the village back on track.

Earlier this week, Mr. Teller said the appointment of Ms. McGinnis is a strictly political move. He said the other trustees are upset that the mayor has the authority to appoint someone to the post without board approval.

Mr. Tucker has denied those accusations, stating that Ms. McGinnis was hired to support and assist the new clerk, not to undermine the mayor’s authority. He also said Ms. McGinnis, who worked for the village for 16 years, boasts a wealth of knowledge and can help Ms. Lindtvit get accustomed to her new role.

“We have someone starting this Wednesday [May 1] and we have the beaches opening and we have elections going on—it is prudent to have someone for assisting purposes,” Mr. Tucker said. “It is to assist the village clerk. She has a lot of knowledge and I want checks and balances in place. As a resource, Kathy is great.”

Mr. Tucker said he has worked with Ms. Lindtvit in the past and has never had an issue with her or her work. Still, he wishes that the mayor would have made more of an effort to include the other trustees in the interview process.

Mr. Teller explained that while Ms. Molinaro will not be around to train Ms. Lindtvit, she has worked with her over the past two-plus years and already knows what she is doing. He described her as a perfect fit to replace Ms. Molinaro, who recently accepted a new post in East Hampton Village.

The mayor later added that, if necessary, Ms. Lindtvit can attend training offered by the state in the fall.

"Liz has been in the business for close to 30 years," Mr. Teller said. "She has been around long enough and worked for the village for 10 years. I think she is well-qualified to do the job without having to have somebody hold her hand."

A lifelong East End resident, Ms. Lindtvit was born in Hampton Bays and moved to Westhampton Beach in 1992. She has an associate degree in accounting from Suffolk County Community College and, in 1979, started her career as an assistant in the Southampton Town Tax Assessor’s office. She worked there for four years before moving over to the town comptroller’s office, where she handled payroll, financial documents and receipts. In 2000, she became a senior account clerk for Westhampton Beach Village and, two year later, was named deputy clerk/treasurer.

Ms. Lindtvit’s term will run until next June, at which time the mayor will have to decide whether to reappoint her. Mr. Teller is up for reelection next year.

Mr. Tucker also explained that one of the reasons he wants to explore the idea of replacing the village clerk with a village administrator is that the latter must be appointed by the entire board. Pointing to the two payroll errors made by Ms. Molinaro, Mr. Tucker said a village administrator would have to explain her mistakes to the entire board and not just the mayor.

Mr. Teller said he does not yet know enough about the differences between village clerks and village administrators to form an opinion. He did say, however, that the current system seems to be working fine, and previously noted that payroll errors are common mistakes for municipalities.

Mr. Teller also has appointed Jeannine Conte as the new deputy clerk. Ms. Conte, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in finance and management, will make $58,000 a year. She currently serves as deputy treasurer of the Westhampton Beach Fire District.

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Unbelievable. Still, if locals don't show up to stop this kind of abuse, its going to continue to happen. Since when is a CLERK worth $60 an hour?
By Alice (7), Westhampton on Apr 25, 13 12:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
When the current Clerk has to be replaced because she made multiples of that in errors which the Mayor approved and signed off on the mistakes-

The Mayor and Village Attorney should also be replaced!
By realistic (468), westhampton on Apr 25, 13 1:18 PM
Former Clerk Ms McGinnis made a similar payroll overpayment error in 2010 - 2011 fiscal year. According to the Clerk's own letter to the contractual employees, the error was discovered by the Village's auditors, not by the clerk or the trustees. The overpayment to all contractual employees was corrected by deducting from our 2011 paychecks.

How is it Mr Tucker has omitted mentioning the former clerk's error, which occurred while Mr Tucker was a trustee and further, the trustees allowed ...more
By realwhb (7), westhampton beach on Apr 25, 13 2:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
Interesting, Hank thought it was a good idea to hire the former Village Clerk because she had so much experience? What is her experience, after 14 years of on the job practice she makes the same mistake? That just shows me she is not capable of learning. They really should have stuck with Ms. Molinaro, I heard from many people she was very competent and a pleasure to work with! Have you ever heard anyone say that about the former Village Clerk?
By gusbeme (33), southampton on Apr 25, 13 6:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
SIXTY DOLLARS AN HOUR !!???!!!. A total of $7,500 at $60/hour-- thats 125 hours--or THREE WEEKS OF WORK! Are you kidding me?? They should all be FLOGGED!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Apr 25, 13 9:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps things like this happen here because it has become a sport to watch these messes unfold, and then complain about them. Go Village Board! I can't wait to see what you do next to infuriate the people you (supposedly) serve.
By Alice (7), Westhampton on Apr 26, 13 6:53 AM
Village Hall is like the O.K. Corral.

I guess that can be expected when some elected officials who believe they have a birthright entitlement to dispense patronage and emoluments at village taxpayer expense are challenged by those who contest those beliefs.

Too bad, it doesn't seem like anyone is shooting straight and this will take a long time to resolve. In the meantime it is the taxpayers who get bled.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Apr 26, 13 8:42 AM
2 members liked this comment
Does this mean the deputy clerk's position is open, because I believe she eloquently stated that she was not going to work for/with Mrs. McGinnis, and if so, where can one send a resume?
By Eliza (29), Westhampton Beach on Apr 26, 13 9:12 AM
2 members liked this comment
If in fact the deputy clerk does take the position of Village Clerk Treasurer, will she also be entitled to an additional $60.00 an hour to train her replacement? How does that work? Cathy McGinnis couldn't perform the job of the deputy clerk, even if she was dared to...... STOP THE NONSENSE!!!!!
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 26, 13 7:32 PM
With your logic terk. I hope you not an employee of the Village also. By reading your prior postings you appear to be part of the hate or old guard in this Village that needs to be replaced. As a tax payer In this Village I just want the truth and the Mayor and the Village Attorney can't seem to get to that place. Is a shame his tenure has been riddled with one disaster after another.
By realistic (468), westhampton on Apr 27, 13 1:03 PM
Realistic, I too, as a tax payer, and non-village employee have just been able to clearly see the light. I have no hate of the "OLD" guard, I just don't appreciate the nonsense that seems to be being heeped upon our village witch is making us look the the fools of the Hamptons. And yes, I did mean WITCH! I out and out challenge you to attend the next board meeting and make yourself known... I will be there to respond to you if you have the GUTS!
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 28, 13 5:06 PM
By terk1928 (11), Westhampton Beach on Apr 28, 13 5:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congratulations Liz!!!! from Diane C.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Apr 29, 13 8:21 PM
Liz Lindtvit will do a highly professional job in her new position provided she will not be bossed, bullied and intimated by the powers that be in Village Hall. Why do you think Rebecca Molinaro left for East Hampton? A better job with much more professional people to work with. Westhampton Beach Village government has become Theatre of the Absurd.
By wizzs (5), westhampton on May 1, 13 2:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
That's the main kicker, though, Steve. For example, what in the world is going on with the beach? That story left more questions unanswered than answered.
By MainSt978 (9), Westhampton Beach on May 6, 13 6:47 PM
I guess Teller was afraid not to promote her. What a disgrace. Her performance at the Board meeting was despicable. Again. Another are of the inmates running the asylum.
By realistic (468), westhampton on May 2, 13 9:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
If this story was written on may 2nd why are all this old comments attached to it. New story should have its own comments. Like congratulations Liz you will do a great job for the village as you have done for the last 13 years. Long before the present Mayor and board of trustees were ever around. Maybe if they put their ego's in check and start working together, the village of westhampton would be better served. Just a idea.
By busdoc88 (1), Hampton Bays on May 3, 13 12:37 PM
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