Plumbing inspector cut to part-time after budget hearing

Council members agreed 4-1 to reduce the city’s full-time plumbing inspector’s salary to part-time at a budget committee meeting held Thursday evening after the public hearing on the budget. Alderman Rodney Wojnar suggested the change and said that from his observation, there was not enough work for the position to warrant a full-time salary.

“It’s just not a full time position as far as the work goes,” said Wojnar. After the meeting, Wojnar said that he had personally looked at the work orders for the inspector in order to reach his conclusion.

Engineer Rich Miller said the plumbing inspector’s job is to inspect plumbing work done in residential or commercial buildings, as well as to inspect the work done by the city’s water and sewer departments.

However, he conceded that the inspector was not currently overseeing the city’s maintenance work. “Just general plumbing inspecting, we’re not overloaded with that, that’s for sure. But there are other things in his job description he could do.”

“It comes down to supervision…if an employee is not performing up to the way they should be, the department head should be on top of that,” said Alderman Chad Majewski.

“We’re actually trying to up his workload up a lot more than it was,” said Miller.

Miller said the current inspector has “extensive knowledge of what is going on in the city with the water and sewer and we do draw on that once in a while.”

“I think he could stay full time as long as we can get him more involved in the inspection of what the water and sewer maintenance guys do, to make sure they are doing things right,” said Miller. “I would say, just a recommendation, leave it as it stands right now, let me see how much I can get him involved in the projects, maybe at the next council meeting or next month we could talk about it.”

Aldermen Ed Russo, Paul Ochal, and Jim Martuscello agreed with Wojnar to cut the position but the three said they would be willing to look at the situation later and increase the salary if needed.

Majewski disagreed with the cut, citing the city’s aging infrastructure as an area where more time and expertise was needed.

“I think we just need more accountability on the job,” added Majewski.

The cut to the inspector’s position, which draws from both the water and sewer fund, will slightly reduce the user fees for those utilities.

The council agreed to submit the accumulated changes agreed on over the past few weeks of budget review meetings to the city clerk so that they can be officially voted on. Once the council votes on the budget changes, the mayor may issue “objections” or line-item vetoes to the the changes. Any veto can be overridden by the council by a two-thirds majority vote.

Phil Lyford was the only person to speak during the public hearing for the proposed budget. He compared the speed at which the current council approved a $5 million bond for sewer improvements to a time last year when he and others asked the previous council to bond for $325,000 to match a grant for artwork on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge. The previous council declined, but money from grants received later were used as matching funds.

To the current council, Lyford said, “I guess I should compliment you on your ability to do something for the city when it’s necessary, when it was such a struggle last time.”

Tim Becker

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