Thursday, February 23, 2012
The former executive director of the county Workforce Investment Board faced his own career limbo as the Great Recession took hold. Joseph Werner spent 11 months on paid administrative leave beginning in June 2009, exceeding the 20 days allowed by the county’s personnel policy.
As part of its recent audit of WIB, auditors from the state Employment Development Department are asking the county to reimburse the state for the $224,477 paid to Werner.
The county has not agreed that the entire payout was out of line. The only point Elliott Robinson, county Director of Social and Employment Services, concedes is the misuse of $136,695 of federal funds to pay Werner, which the county’s agreed to pay back.
The county won’t say why Werner was put on paid leave for almost a year, citing confidentiality rules. Reached by phone, Werner declined to comment; Robinson says, “We parted paths amicably.”
Werner’s position no longer exists. The county’s year-old Economic Development Department took WIB under its umbrella, along with the now-defunct Redevelopment and Housing Agency.
County EDD Director Jim Cook sees the audit as a learning tool. “The audit raised some concerns about how certain components of the program had been managed,” he says. “The audit was then; this is now.”