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North Hempstead failed to match official’s title with duties, panel said

Kim Kaiman, who in June resigned from her

Kim Kaiman, who in June resigned from her job as executive director of North Hempstead's tourism agency. Credit: Courtesy Great Neck Record

The Nassau County Civil Service Commission determined Kim Kaiman’s job duties for the Town of North Hempstead did not correspond to the duties of the Civil Service title she held, deputy finance commissioner, records show.

Kaiman, 48, the wife of former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, was hired by current town Supervisor Judi Bosworth in January 2014 and later that month was appointed to also work as executive director of the town’s nonprofit Business and Tourism Development Corp. Her salary and benefits were paid under the deputy finance commissioner job, a Civil Service title.

The county Civil Service Commission started investigating Kaiman’s job title and responsibilities after receiving an anonymous tip in May 2016. The commission establishes Civil Service titles for public employees. Municipalities submit a prospective employee’s job functions, and the commission determines the appropriate title. Some Civil Service positions require employees to take exams; others, such as the deputy finance commissioner title, do not. All full-time, permanent town employees have Civil Service titles, participate in the state retirement system and accrue pension credits, town officials said. The tourism corporation jobs are not part of the state retirement system, town officials said.

Kaiman’s job responsibilities, including working with small businesses and film companies as outlined by the town for the commission’s review, were solely related to the tourism corporation, documents show. Those responsibilities “are not appropriate work for a Deputy Commissioner of Finance,” commission executive director Karl Kampe wrote to Bosworth on Jan. 4.

In late January, the town removed Kaiman’s Civil Service title and moved her solely to the tourism corporation, records show. Kaiman left that job in June.

Among the finance responsibilities, outlined in the town’s 2013 request for this job’s Civil Service classification, were assisting with preparing the department’s budget and acting on behalf of the finance commissioner to implement and enforce town laws pertaining to human resources. Town officials would not say whether Kaiman performed those finance duties. When describing Kaiman’s work to a Newsday reporter and in an Oct. 5, 2016, letter to the Civil Service commission, town officials detailed only business- and tourism-related responsibilities.

Bosworth, who was elected after Jon Kaiman left office in 2013, said she gave Kim Kaiman two titles to cover a new, broader set of responsibilities for the tourism executive director position, such as boosting film production in town. The town intended to increase the nonprofit agency’s role beyond that of previous years, Bosworth said.

She did not address whether Kaiman performed the deputy finance commissioner responsibilities listed for the commission other than to say the duties “coincide with planning, business and tourism.”

“It was a title we thought fit,” Bosworth said.

Kaiman was the first person in the tourism job to also be given the town job of deputy finance commissioner, which is a Civil Service title, records show.

The commission’s Jan. 4 letter notified town officials that if they continued to certify on the town’s payroll that Kaiman was performing the duties of the deputy finance commissioner title, they would be in violation of state law.

The town later that month moved Kaiman’s employment from the town to the tourism agency.

Kaiman stayed in the tourism job, without being able to accrue pension credits, until she resigned on June 21. She was given a payout of $4,431 for unused vacation and sick time, documents show.

Kaiman could not be reached for comment.

According to Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who administers the New York State and local retirement system for public employees, an employer “may make retroactive adjustments to salary and service to correct reporting errors. The system would then recalculate the benefit to reflect the corrected information.” Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere did not address specific questions about whether the town would change Kaiman’s salary or length of service, instead stating that Kaiman was “properly treated as a Town employee.” Jennifer Freeman, communications director for DiNapoli, said: “To date, we have not received an adjustment from the Town of North Hempstead for Ms. Kaiman.”

Kaiman started working for the town as director of legislative affairs in 2000 — the year before her husband was elected supervisor — and left in 2003. She now has six years of service credit accrued through her town positions and a brief period at the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. Kaiman became eligible to join the state retirement system last March after five years of public employment, according to DiNapoli’s office.

The county Civil Service Commission considers misuse of titles to be “serious,” Kampe said.

“This is probably the most extreme — when somebody fills a position and basically is doing work totally different than what the position calls for,” Kampe said of the Kaiman situation.

Bosworth said town officials are working to align titles with the jobs town employees actually perform.

Kaiman also was the first tourism director to receive health insurance benefits as part of the job.

The tourism agency’s first director, Leslie Gross, said she “had begged for health insurance,” but the request was denied during Jon Kaiman’s administration. Louise Fishman, the succeeding executive director, said she also asked for benefits for “many years.” Ian Siegel, who was in the position from 2010 to 2011, said he “understood at the time that it was never an option.”

Bosworth addressed the differences by saying the executive director position was “expanded tremendously” so that Kaiman’s job was “very different from the job that was done before.”

With Kaiman’s departure, tourism agency deputy director Roy Smitheimer will be taking on additional responsibilities, town officials said. He has an additional Civil Service title of secretary to the commissioner of planning and development, with a salary of $69,143, and is eligible for health insurance and pension credits, Trottere said.

Bosworth said no decisions have been made about Kaiman’s replacement.

CORRECTION: The Nassau County Civil Service Commission determined that Kim Kaiman’s job duties for the Town of North Hempstead did not correspond to the duties of the Civil Service title she held, deputy finance commissioner. A previous version of this story, and its headlines, incorrectly described the scope of the commission’s determination to include entitlement to New York State pension credits. The previous version also inaccurately described the context of comments from Commission Executive Director Karl Kampe. Kampe did not comment on pension credits, referring pension questions to the comptroller. The comptroller’s spokesperson did not comment on a specific case but provided a general explanation of what town officials may do to correct reporting errors involving pensions.

Kim Kaiman job history with the Town of North Hempstead

  • 2000: Kaiman is hired as director of legislative affairs. She stayed until 2003.
  • January 2014: Kaiman is again hired by the town and given two titles — deputy finance commissioner and executive director of the Business and Tourism Development Corp. The finance title allows her to accrue state pension credits.
  • May 13, 2016: Nassau County Civil Service Commission starts an investigation of Kaiman’s deputy finance commissioner title.
  • Jan. 4, 2017: After months of correspondence, the commission puts the town on notice to fix the job title conflict.
  • Jan. 31, 2017: The town rescinds Kaiman’s finance title and appoints her exclusively to the tourism job, without pension accrual.
  • June 21, 2017: Kaiman resigns from her town job.

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