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Wilton spars with Pearce on overtime expenses - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Wilton spars with Pearce on overtime expenses

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Republican Wendy Wilton says there are management problems in the treasurer's office.

"I think Vermonters should be concerned about management of the state's finances, the use of the state's resources in terms of excessive overtime and the management issue," Wilton said.

Wilton said a state computer upgrade relating to almost 46-thousand current and retired state employees has taken seven years and cost thousands in overtime expenses.
Wilton said one employee racked up almost 27-thousand dollars of overtime working on the project under incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce.

"Pearce herself has signed off on 9-thousand hours of overtime in a three-year period and over 265-thousand (dollars) worth of overtime in that same period," Wilton said.

Wilton says her campaign was tipped off to the problem by seven current and former employees who have concerns about Pearce.  WCAX talked to several people about their worries -- none would go on camera.

"Beth Pearce is pumping overtime in her office. She is padding overtime for select employees... which is going to put a bigger burden on the pension," Wilton said.

"I'm not going to respond -- that's outrageous," Pearce said.  "What we are doing is managing the office for the benefit of taxpayers."

Pearce said the computer upgrade was necessary to convert paper files to a computerized system.  She said it has sped up retirees getting access and information about benefits. She also said the project will come in more than 1-million dollars under budget, with work wrapping up in a year.  Pearce said overtime costs will come down.

Reporter Kristin Carlson: Why not hire someone new? Because there is no hiring freeze right now in state government?

Pearce: We have made a recent hire and we continue to manage the system and do this cost effectively for the taxpayers and for our customers, the retirees and the active employees.

Pearce said this is an attempt by Wilton to distract voters after she had a strong fundraising report. "This is election year politics at its worst," she added.

Wilton said what she's found out should be investigated.  She sent a letter to the Attorney General and the Auditor.  The Attorney General said he will only look into it if the Auditor refers the case to him because he thinks there is criminal activity.  The Auditor's office says it will look into the request by sending Wilton's questions to the Treasurer's office.  The agency will then have three weeks to respond, so all this will be sorted out -- well after the election.

Former Treasurer Jeb Spaulding said the computer change should be held up as a success -- that the office took their time with it to get it right.  He also said a lot of the personnel changes took place while he was in office and he supported any changes Pearce made.

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