Tisbury studies charges against harbormaster
Town administrator John Bugbee took steps this week to investigate allegations of impropriety by harbormaster Jay Wilbur made at a selectmen's meeting on July 1.
Gene DeCosta, the former owner of Vineyard Marine, accused Mr. Wilbur of taking home old planking from the Owen Park pier that should belong to the town, having summer staff remove nails from boards instead of their other duties, and claiming on his worksheet that he worked four hours when he was off-Island. Mr. DeCosta and Mr. Wilbur have clashed over harbor issues in previous public meetings.
Mr. Wilbur told the selectmen he had the old planking removed and stored at his house to save the town money for disposal fees the contractor would have charged to haul it to the landfill. Department of public works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana said this week about two small truckloads of wood were hauled away from Mr. Wilbur's home and stacked at the old DPW barn.
"Some of it is pretty rotted," Mr. LaPiana said. "If no one buys it, we will probably have to haul it off and dispose of it." At a cost of about $165 a ton for disposal of construction debris, he estimated the fee for the old planking might run $165.
Mr. Bugbee, who oversees town employees, said he handles personnel issues internally, and that he will examine the issues raised and deal with them accordingly.
"Some bad decisions were made, but we'll take a look at it, and we'll take corrective measures to make sure it doesn't happen again," Mr. Bugbee said, referring to Mr. Wilbur's removal of the wood. "I think, honestly, it was just a mistake that was made without any ill intent involved."
Mr. Bugbee said once the wood is inventoried and its value determined, it will be disposed of in accordance with Massachusetts law regarding surplus materials. The town will advertise its sale and take bids accordingly.
Mr. Bugbee also said he was satisfied the task of removing nails by the harbormaster's staff was appropriate, given they did so when they were not busy with other work. The nails were removed from boards in order for the contractor to reuse some of them during reconstruction of the pier, he explained.
Regarding the possible discrepancy Mr. DeCosta mentioned on Mr. Wilbur's timesheet, Mr. Bugbee said, "Jay is salaried and gets paid the same whether he works 80 hours or 40 hours a week."
All town employees turn in a timesheet, whether salaried or hourly. Although Mr. Wilbur often works extra hours, he might not always document them because he does not get paid overtime, Mr. Bugbee said. The town has no formal policy regarding "comp time" for overtime hours, either.
"People are asked to put accurate hours on their timesheets, but over time, some people put down the same hours because that's what they usually work," Mr. Bugbee said.
The timesheet Mr. DeCosta questioned might not have been changed to reflect extra hours that Mr. Wilbur worked that week, Mr. Bugbee explained.
"I haven't fully investigated the issue," he said. "Timesheets should reflect the actual time worked. For salaried employees, it's not a monetary issue when they don't put down extra hours, but people need to accurately record their time so that we have a record of what hours they worked and when. It's something that we can and will address."