The Amsterdam Common Council passed a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting approving a deal with Bottom Line Concepts of New York City to find potential cost savings for the city. Last September, Josh Fox, founder and CEO of the firm told the council that there would be no up-front costs or out-of-pocket costs to the city for his company to look at ways to cut costs in a number of categories including energy costs, telephone and cellphone costs, office supplies, and other areas. The company would only make money if the city decided to go ahead with their recommended cost savings ideas, with a 50% commission paid on the savings the first year, and a 35% commission paid the second year.
At a committee meeting held earlier in the evening, council members discussed the idea of permanently transferring the staff and equipment for cutting down vegetation on city owned properties from the Recreation Department to the Department of Public Works.
“The question I have is now that you are moving that away from recreation, how do we justify the salaries of the employees?” asked Alderman Ed Russo.
“What employees specifically are you talking about?” asked Mayor Ann Thane.
“Well you have a department head at x amount of dollars and an assistant at x amount of dollars,” said Russo.
“I think that they have ample responsibility otherwise, beyond just the seasonal crew,” said Thane.
“Well you’ve taken a whole department away from recreation and given it to Department of Public Works which is going to have a foreman,” said Russo.
Alderwoman Valerie Beekman said that removing the responsibility of taking care of the vegetation work from the Recreation Department would allow the department to concentrate more on the city’s youth programs and “open up the door for other things for [Recreation Director Rob Spagnola] to do in the city.”
“I’m not knocking Rob or his secretary, I think they do a fantastic job…I just have a real problem with that kind of salary just to take care of the fields,” said Russo.
“I don’t see how taking two seasonal employees away from [Spagnola] indicates that you should lower his salary,” said Thane.
Russo said he wasn’t looking to lower Spagnola’s salary, but rather justify the salary.
DPW Foreman Anthony Leggerio spoke at the meeting and said that vegetation used to be responsibility of the DPW and was transferred to the Recreation Department at some point during former Mayor Joe Emanuele’s term.
Thane said that the Recreation Department has recently took on new responsibilities including running the homecoming and Spring Fling events, the youth program at Bacon School and the Creative Connections Arts Center.
Council members agreed to hold another discussion with Spagnola in the near future to determine the details and costs associated with the transfer.