WARWICK, RI – Warwick Mayor Frank J. Picozzi, his chief of staff, chief financial officer and press secretary have gone nearly a year and a half without their medical insurance premiums being deducted from their weekly pay , said his press secretary on Monday.

Picozzi, who took office in January 2021, took to Facebook on Thursday saying: “This morning it was brought to my attention that some of my staff and department managers who came on board at the start of my term did not have our co-pays our medical coverage deducted from our weekly paychecks.

The deductions, which are made as part of employee health insurance cost sharing, should have started in February 2021, he said.

“It appears to have been missed because the person responsible for launching it was away due to COVID,” Picozzi wrote. “I never noticed it personally because my pay is electronically deposited and I never look at what is deducted.”

Picozzi said deductions will begin immediately as part of reimbursement plans for him and other employees. “I am posting this publicly because I believe in full disclosure and transparency,” he wrote.

On Monday, the mayor’s press secretary, Elizabeth Tufts, provided details in response to a Globe inquiry.

She said Picozzi, city chief financial officer Peder A. Schaefer, and chief of staff Susan Nahabedian each owed $5,000 under family health insurance plans, and Tufts said she owed $2,000 under an individual health plan. She said they all started working for the city on the same day.

City Treasurer Lynne Prodger brought the matter to Picozzi’s attention, Tufts said. The city is not releasing the name of the person, referenced in Picozzi’s Facebook post, who was out with COVID at the time, she said.

All four employees have signed a repayment plan, agreeing that double the normal premium will be deducted until monies owed are repaid, Tufts said. If their employment ends first, the full amount will become due, she said.

“A check is being made on all other employees to ensure this error has not occurred with other employees,” Tufts said. The city’s information technology department “is building a better system,” she said.

“The mayor will not comment beyond that,” Tufts said.

Picozzi received praise for his announcement on Facebook.

“Thank you for your honesty,” Micky Kotkofski wrote. “No one would have known…except God. Good for you!”

“It’s good to be open about it,” wrote Christopher Cioe. “I think it raises valid questions about city-wide reconciliation and auditing. Humans make mistakes, it’s inevitable, but ideally there are redundancies to catch it like this example. Ideally for each department of the city. This way no one can claim it to be a fraud or misinterpret it to be anything other than an error. »

But Picozzi’s message also drew some skepticism and criticism.

“I find it disturbing that you, your staff and your administrators pay so little attention to detail,” Mary-Ann McCurry wrote. “If you don’t realize such an error in your own paycheck, how is there attention to detail in running the city? You had no choice but to come. After all, you had to try to get in front.

Rob Cote, a Warwick resident who often speaks at city council meetings, questioned why Picozzi and the others were getting 16 months to repay the money after receiving 16 months of “gold-plated” health insurance. “If I was $5,000 behind on my sewer bill, would the city put me on a payment plan?” He asked. “No, they would put my house up for sale for taxes, and I would have to pay the full amount with interest and penalties, but the mayor gets special treatment.”

Cote also asked why Picozzi, who receives a salary of $100,000, and the others cannot repay the full amount at once. “Are these people so fiscally dysfunctional that they don’t have $5,000 to make the town whole?” he said. “If he makes $100,000 and doesn’t have $5,000, that guy doesn’t deserve to be mayor of the Monopoly game, for god’s sake.”


Edward Fitzpatrick can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.