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AUGUST 19 - AUGUST 27, 2014

Johnson Retires as Reporter Predicted

August 19, 2014

Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson, the town of Lewiston's internal claims auditor, is retiring this week.

The Niagara Falls Reporter exclusively reported back on June 17 that Johnson would retire once he reached his 62nd birthday.

Johnson turned 62 on Aug 11 and announced his retirement that day.

Before serving in his present position, Johnson served as a councilman for 14 years, then as town budget director under supervisor Steven L. Reiter.

Johnson is also a well known realtor in this town.

Johnson's last eight months with the town seemed to be tailored as a transition period and for him to work until he reached retirement age.

When Supervisor Dennis Brochey assumed office in January, he appointed Paul Kloosterman as town budget director to replace Johnson and the town board created a new position -- internal claims auditor -- and appointed Johnson to the position and voted to pay him $43,000 plus benefits, the same salary he earned as finance director.

Kloosterman, a CPA, is paid $60,000 annually, $17,000 more than Johnson made in the same position.

The job of internal claims auditor is a position no other government in Niagara County has with the exception of the Lewiston-Porter school district. Lew-Port's internal claims employee works once per month and collects an annual salary of $1,500.

Brochey characterized his support of creating the new position for Johnson as one where Johnson would aid Kloosterman in learning the ropes of Lewiston's budget.

According to Brochey, it was understood that Johnson's position would be eliminated once Kloosterman, a Certified Public Accountant, was ready to assume the full workload of finance director.

Brochey said at the time that he had a "long talk" with Johnson, and the two agreed to a plan that Johnson would leave once Kloosterman was ready.

At the Town of Lewiston's June 9th monthly work session meeting, Town Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey made a surprise attempt to eliminate Johnson's position.

"We can do without the services of Mike Johnson at this point," said Brochey in June. "I assign Johnson no work whatsoever and I'm not sure what he actually does."

The Republican board tabled the matter and Johnson was allowed to remain on the town payroll until Aug. 11 when Johnson turned 62.

Brochey also proposed cutting the junior accounting position currently held by Katelyn Allen from full to part-time.

"We have three people doing finance here," Brochey told the Reporter at the time.

No action was taken by the town board to reduce Allen's position.

With Kloosterman's $60,000 salary, Johnson's $43,000 salary and Allen's $39,000 salary, the town had the most expensive finance department in its history.

Johnson wrote a memo announcing his retirement last week which read, "I thank the town board for their support over the past five years. I am grateful and feel privileged to have represented the residents of Lewiston for 14 years as a councilman. I will be available anytime to answer any questions or to assist you with any information from my past years."

Councilmen Ronald Winkley, Alfonso Bax, and William Conrad commented publicly on the services Johnson gave to the town.

Winkely moved to accept Johnson's retirement "with regret."

Back in June, Johnson told the Reporter that he had filed paperwork with the state for a planned retirement on Aug. 29.

In the meantime, Johnson said he was not without work.

Among duties he had been engaged in was to tally money the town is due from developers for under-billed engineering fees, which he said may be around $10,000, and pursuing Greenway funds.

Johnson said his staying until August did not affect his pension but permitted him to continue to earn money until he collected his first check.

Johnson plans to remain active as a real estate agent.

With Johnson's retirement, the town board apparently has no plans to replace Johnson with another individual to be an internal claims auditor.





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Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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