Water Authority Deal Inspires Reform Aimed at "Golden Parachutes"

Wallace Proposes Limits on Severance Deals

Dave Debo
March 01, 2018 - 12:26 pm

WBEN Photo/Dave Debo


(WBEN) Inspired by a "Golden Parachute" deal for the current Erie County Water Authority Executive Director who is likely to lose his job soon because of a change in political patronage power, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace is calling for  a limit on these types of severance packages at authorities across New York State.

Wallace, a Cheektowaga Democrat, announced her proposal outside the Water Authority's Cheektowaga facility on Union Road Thursday.

"I don't think 'golden parachutes' should happen at taxpayers expense. The job is paid very well. To get a qualified person there's no need for this kind of golden parachute, to lure someone into the job,"Wallace said.

" ... usually golden parachutes are done at the front end so that it you get let go..( you have severance). This was done on the backend moments before he was going to be let go," Wallace said of a deal recently reached to benefit ECWA Executive Director Earl Jann, a Republican.

Typically, control of the authority and hiring there is in the hands of whichever party controls the Erie County Legislature, and in November, the Democrats became a new majority there.

Jann's current contract  guarantees a severance package estimated between $300,000 and $400,000 if he  is let go by the Authority when control of the entity changes. 

The Severance Pay Limitation Act would make amendments to the public authorities law by defining at-will appointees, limiting the severance package allowable for at-will appointees to no more than three months’ pay, and ensuring that severance payments are not considered in calculating retirement benefits.

Wallace says while the proposed legislation would not change anything for Jann, it would prevent similar arrangements in the future.

She has yet to find a Senate sponsor for the legislation, and expects to be filing it in the Assembly for consideration in the coming days


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