Decision in Udinsky Suspension - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/10/02

Decision in Udinsky Suspension

After months of waiting and numerous meetings, a decision regarding Chatham County's chief appraiser has been made. Gary Udinsky was suspended for two weeks without pay for mistakes in the tax digest, and today in a heated meeting, the board of assessors overturned this suspension.

The majority of the board voted to give him a written reprimand, and some board members say that is just not acceptable.

"The man draws in 81,000 a year and he's not supposed to make mistakes," said board member Larry Lower. "And these mistakes were made because he didn't do what he was supposed to do, and that is initiate proper quality control."

Udinsky sat and listened as Lower tried to convince the other members why Udinsky's two-week unpaid suspension should be upheld, but after a heated discussion Lower's motion failed.

"The man needs to know he's being punished," Lower maintained. "And we're not telling him that, we're saying good, you know, you made an error, you've been here ten years, but that don't mean nothing."

Instead, the board voted to give Udinsky a written reprimand of the most serious kind, which will go in his personnel file, and the board says it could come back and haunt Udinsky if any other mistakes are made.

"I don't know how in good conscience you can do this, I really don't," Lower protested.

"When I voted, I wasn't thinking about any consequences, I just voted with my heart at the time," said fellow board member Brunette Mitchell-Dixon.

This decision comes after many closed-door meetings and much criticism from the public.

"Before I got here I was the same way, I said you know those people up there must be idiots, they can't get anything right," said Jimmy Fields, also a board member. "But let me tell you, sit at this table and your perspective changes and it changes quickly."

Udinsky wouldn't comment on the situation, but his lawyer says they are happy the suspension was overturned and this is the first reprimand in his personnel file. Udinsky is still suspended indefinitely as the board looks into his job performance. The board says this issue may be taken up at the next meeting on the 22nd.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro

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