SOUTH HADLEY, MASS. >> A state financial watchdog is challenging the nearly $500,000 payout being claimed by the outgoing manager of a western Massachusetts municipal lighting plant for unused, vacation, sick and personal days.

Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha says former South Hadley Electric Light Department manager Wayne Doerpholz is only eligible for about $15,000, not the $476,000 he claims.

Doerpholz's contract was not renewed by the department's commissioners after he was named in a federal whistleblower lawsuit alleging he failed to adequately respond to complaints of workplace bullying.

Cunha says he found "significant evidence that challenges the legitimacy of Doerpholz's claimed payout entitlement," and notes that Doerpholz was in charge of the department's financial records.

Neither Doerpholz nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.

Doerpholz has been manager since 1982.