Common Council meeting briefs

At the beginning of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Ann Thane addressed the deterioration of the Route 30 in the Market Street hill area and reported that she has been in contact with the NY State Department of Transportation. She said the state has agreed to send a materials engineer to assess the roadway. In a statement released Monday, Thane said that given the route is a major artery, the situation is an emergency. She said the city does not have the money to repair the area and that it is the state’s responsibility.

Controller Matthew Agresta reported that the 2012-2013 Annual Update Document (AUD) has been submitted to NY State and was awaiting approval. He said that work on the 2013-2014 AUD was already in progress. Once the 2013-2014 AUD is completed and accepted, the city will be up-to-date with its required financial reporting.

The council unanimously approved a resolution naming Valerie Beekman and Richard Leggerio as liaisons to the “Downtown Merchant’s Association.” The association, which has yet to be formed, was discussed among downtown businesses at a meeting last month.

The council approved a $29,795 transfer from the contingency fund to cover a large purchase of road salt made last month. According to Controller Matthew Agresta, the actual purchase price ended up being approximately $23,000, but cited General Foreman Ray Halgas as saying that another purchase of approximately $10,000 still needs to be made to cover the city’s needs until the end of the winter. Agresta said that Halgas would find the money within his existing budget to cover the next purchase rather than making another request from contingency. Agresta said that after the transfer, the contingency line would have approximately $22,000 left.

The council approved the designation of a $10,000 portion of insurance recovery funds to match a potential grant to install artificial turf at Isabel’s Field to improve drainage problems. Paul Antonelli, president of the Youth Baseball League, explained that he had applied for a “Tommorow Fund” grant from Major League Baseball. He said the he was informed last month that his application was on the “short list” and that a representative would be completing a site evaluation in March. Antonelli said that the field has severe drainage problems and that if the field did not receive the grant, the $10,000 could be used to improve the existing field.

A resolution granting a stipend to Employee Relations Director Bob Reidy that was verbally approved at last month’s Common Council meeting was tabled by the council yesterday. The council had previously agreed to de-fund the Corporation Counsel’s Gerard DeCusatis’ full time assistant, who was also providing assistance to Reidy. The council agreed verbally to use the remaining amount in the budget line to give both DeCusatis and Reidy a $5,000 stipend to hire their own help. However, the only written resolution that was approved was for DeCusatis.

Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said she knew of a part-time city employee who was looking for more work, and proposed that the council ask Reidy to use his stipend to hire that individual.

“You can’t backdoor a full-time hire by applying a stipend to this department,” said Thane, “it can’t be done.”

“I think we have an issue here,” said Alderman Ed Russo, “because you would become a full-time person, so you would have to adjust the budget to make that a full-time position with benefits.”

“It’s up to the department head to be involved in his hire,” said Thane, “we don’t just go and tell people who they’re going to hire…you look at qualifications, you look at what his requirements are, what his needs are.”

Thane added that Reidy’s department was “struggling” to get required work done.

City Clerk Susan Alibozek suggested there might be a problem with civil service in regards to Reidy, as a city department head, using a stipend to hire a part-time employee. She said the situation differed from DeCusatis, who also runs a private practice, and has hired assistants in the past. Russo agreed with Alibozek’s statement. The council voted unanimously to table the resolution.

The council voted down a local law 4-1 that would allow the City Engineer to function as the head of the Department of Public Works. Alderwoman Valerie Beekman cast the lone “yes” vote. The majority of council members had previously asked Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis to draft a local law that would allow the change. The law was introduced at last month’s meeting, but council members expressed dissatisfaction with the wording.

The date of the next Common Council meeting was changed to March 19th at 7:00pm. A committee meeting to discuss capital projects is also scheduled for 6:00pm on the same day.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.