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The Select Board has proposed a settlement of a suit filed by former Health Officer Leo Haggerty. Haggerty, who had claimed in his suit in U.S. District Court in Burlington that he was not paid for 17 months in the job, would receive $5,802. Haggerty later rejected the amount as "an insult."

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POWNAL — The Select Board has proposed a settlement offer in a suit filed against the town by former Health Officer Leo Haggerty — but Haggerty says he isn’t onboard.

The former officer claimed in his suit in U.S. District Court in Burlington that he was not paid for 17 months in the job. According to the board’s offer, he would receive $5,802, board members said. They voted unanimously June 23 to approve the amount.

However, in an email sent Tuesday, Haggerty said in part, “I just reviewed that [Select Board] meeting, and that has not been settled. That offer by the town is an insult.”

Referring to other town employees who have left town government in recent years, he added, “The town needs to pay their help what (they’re) worth, or they are always going to be searching for people.”

In his suit filed in 2021, Haggerty had named the individual Select Board members and the town, and claimed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He said he believed the town owed him at least $29,811 for 17 months of municipal work.

The town officials denied the claims. In a response to the suit, they said there was a stipend available for the health officer position, but Haggerty had refused it. The written response said the defendants offered no other compensation to Haggerty because he refused the stipend.

TERMINATED

The Select Board had voted in April 2021 to seek Haggerty’s removal from the position.

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Meeting minutes show that the board came out of an executive session and approved a motion that a letter be sent to the state health commissioner “seeking the immediate removal” of the town health officer.

In one instance, a public dispute erupted, involving Haggerty, the Select Board and a house owner on Center Street.

At issue was whether Haggerty had condemned a flooded property and whether the administrative steps he took were correct, according to town and state records.

The property owner was said to be bringing the house into compliance.

Haggerty also allegedly was sometimes unavailable or unresponsive, even with the town providing him a cellphone, the town contended.

The town also maintained that after the board “made decisions as a Board of Health regarding a very high priority situation, using the advice of our town attorney, [Haggerty] did not follow through with what the Board of Health decided, and instead delayed action by weeks,” according to Banner files.

Haggerty maintained he did nothing wrong and was carrying out the duties of a town health officer.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com.

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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