BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Common Council members are calling for an audit of city employees on paid leave following the revelation that a City Hall clerk collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in paychecks while on leave for over seven years.

An employee named Jill Parisi was placed on paid administrative leave by the city in 2016 pending an investigation after she was accused of tampering with the Buffalo Fire Department’s payroll. While on leave, the employee received more than $600,000 in paychecks over seven and a half years.

Filmore District Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski called the situation an embarrassment. He told News 4 it should have taken the city 30 to 60 days to hold a hearing and resolve the employee’s status — not seven and a half years.

“It’s really an insult to the city workers, the police and fire and other civil service that come in day in and day out and do their job and work for their pay,” Nowakowski said.

In a statement, Mayor Byron Brown called the case “a complicated personnel issue.”

“The employee was placed on paid administrative leave during this process and has been reinstated,” Brown said. “The departments involved in this process will look at their procedures to see what, if any, modifications need to be made.” 

Council Majority Leader David A. Rivera called on Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams’ office to look into the issue.

“We need to find where the process broke down. Something fell through the cracks here. We don’t know why the hearing wasn’t held for seven years and at the same time, this person was working somewhere else collecting a paycheck both here and wherever the person was working. This is one case where it’s a no brainer, there should be an audit.” 

Nowakowski said by dragging this out, Buffalo’s taxpayers are the ones who suffered.

“I don’t know if I should walk around with a Nike shirt that says ‘Just do it,’ because we need people to start coming to city hall to do their job,” Nowakowski said. “That is what this resolution instructs. For the city comptroller to conduct an audit. And it’s the backbone of city government, of the Common Council, to make sure that these are furnished and we’re working in transparency and we’re doing the work on behalf of the public.“ 

News of the city employee collecting the checks while on leave was first reported by the Investigative Post.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.