Poloncarz says Health Commissioner wasn’t highest paid by overtime in 2020 and 2021

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — At the start of Tuesday afternoon’s conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz shed some light on how much overtime was paid out in the last two years.

His comments came after Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein was accused of illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime in 2020 and 2021.

During his final days in office, now-former Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw claimed that Dr. Burstein’s overtime pay was illegal based on New York Public Health Law and the stipulations of a CSEA contract.

But Poloncarz later clarified that it was fine since the money was made possible through the federal government’s Coronavirus Relief Fund — a $150 billion fund established through the CARES Act.

MORE | Poloncarz blasts Erie County Comptroller’s claim that Dr. Burstein’s overtime was illegal

“It’s disturbing that any elected official would so consistently make false statements and spread misinformation, but it’s sadly not surprising given the Comptroller’s long history of baseless attacks, factual inaccuracies, and bad faith arguments,” Poloncarz said in response to Mychajliw. “However, it is consistent with his ongoing and desperate need for attention while downplaying his own lengthy absence from his publicly-funded elected role, which is itself worthy of investigation.”

In 2020 and 2021, Mychajliw says Dr. Burstein made $336,148 in overtime. That was part of more than $46 million in overtime paid out to county employees overall.

Poloncarz went on to say, too, that of all the county’s employees, Dr. Burstein was not the one who received the most in overtime over those two years. He says it was a member of the Sheriff’s Office.

Generally, the Sheriff’s Office is actually where most of the overtime paid out by Erie County goes to, according to Poloncarz.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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