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Jason Molino

November 13, 2017 - 8:50pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Jason Molino.

Batavia City Council has begun talks with City Manager Jason Molino to renegotiate his contract.

Council President Eugene Jankowski confirmed following tonight’s meeting at City Centre that the subject of Molino’s pay and contract was part of an executive session held before the 7 o’clock meeting – and that talks will continue until both parties reach an agreement.

“Jason’s present contract is over 10 years old and has no expiration date so, during talking with Council, we decided that we wanted to propose another contract negotiation with Jason,” Jankowski said. “Jason drew up a contract and presented it to Council, and we’re now in the process of going through that contract and making a counterproposal.”

Last month, Council voted 5-4 against giving a 2.75 percent raise to Molino, who was hired in 2006 as assistant city manager and became the city manager shortly thereafter. His current salary is $93,782.

Jankowski said he expects the new contract to be a three-year or four-year pact – that’s still up in the air – a switch that would put an end to the yearly, somewhat contentious salary situation.

“As it looks like it’s presented and from what I’ve seen so far, that’s a strong possibility that the salaries will be more incremental over a period of years, instead of yearly budgeted,” Jankowski said.

“It will be similar to a police or a fire or a DPW contract – a period of time with set amounts already in there -- so we can forecast in our budget what to expect over the next so many years (and) so we’re not blindsided by any unnecessary costs each budget year. We’ll know ahead of time where we’re going and where it’s going for.”

The council president said a three-member committee of Council members Adam Tabelski, Rose Mary Christian and Robert Bialkowski met with Molino to get the ball rolling.

“They had the initial meeting with Jason and listened and brought it back to council,” he said. “And we listened. My goal is to get this done by the end of this budget year (March 31, 2018), and start with the new contract at some point.”

Jankowski said he wasn’t sure if the agreement will include retroactive benefits, adding that Council “will have the lawyers look at it and then do the counterproposals -- and go back and forth between Jason and Council."

During the Business meeting, Molino reported that the interview process for the new assistant manager is ongoing. Batavia has been without an assistant manager since July when Gretchen DiFante resigned to take a similar position in the state of Alabama.

Jankowski said he’s in favor of a full-time assistant manager although the City Charter does not indicate the number of hours for the authorized position.

“Because of the city of our size, I believe that an assistant manager is helpful in the event that the manager is unavailable,” he said. “A part-time assistant manager might not be ready to jump into the reins, to jump into the job that needed to happen.”

In other developments, Council:

-- Approved a new contract with the City’s 35 Department of Public Works, wastewater and water treatment plant, highway and parks employees (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union).

The one-year collective bargaining agreement that begins on April 1, 2018 provides the employees a 1.75-percent salary increase, a $450 uniform credit, and reopens talks should sales tax distribution affect the workers. The impact upon the City budget is $38,000.

-- Accepted a $218,000 bid from Hohl Industrial Services Inc., of Tonawanda, to replace and rebuild the traveling mechanical screen and the cyclone grit classifier at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

-- Approved five resolutions transferring various amounts to complete capital projects ($20,000), to the public works equipment reserve fund ($50,000), to the Ellicott Trail pedestrian/bicycle project ($146,000), to the sidewalk reconstruction fund ($25,000) and to the administrative services equipment and software reserve fund ($300,000).

-- Voted to amend the fire department budget to reflect the receipt of a $236,072 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy 24 self-contained breathing apparatus units – replacing the ones that have outlived their usefulness.

The grant also provides money to purchase a Pak Tracker system that is used to locate a firefighter who becomes missing or trapped in a dangerous environment.

-- Authorized the City to contract with the state Department of Transportation to complete construction phases of the “Healthy Schools” project in the amount of $982,238, of which 75 percent will be reimbursed to the City.

The pact calls for the early 2018 replacement of 12,300 feet of sidewalk for Liberty Street from East Main Street to Morton Avenue, and Washington Avenue from Ross Street to Bank Street.

-- Heard a brief report from Council Member Rose Mary Christian about the “marvelous” program being offered to youth at City Church’s property on Liberty Street (St. Anthony’s). Christian estimated that 300 children participated in various activities, including basketball, dance and ping pong.

October 25, 2017 - 8:15am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, batavia, Jason Molino, notify.

jasonmolinooct2320178.jpg

With more than a decade as manager of the City of Batavia under his belt, 38-year-old Jason Molino says he cherishes the opportunity to move the community forward, ever mindful of the support he has received along the way.

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Sidebar: City Council president weighs in on Molino’s performance.
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“Every day is a new day, and the most fun is the (City of Batavia) staff,” he said. “We are fortunate to have dedicated people who go above and beyond – people who are committed to the community and seeing each other succeed -- and work in a community that is thankful for everything you do. That’s what makes it most enjoyable.”

Molino, a Saratoga Spring native, moved to Batavia in the winter of 2006 after accepting the assistant city manager position.

He admitted that local governmental administration is “a tough field, with a level of scrutiny,” but his motivation comes from understanding that “change happens” at the local level.

Molino started out as an environmental science major in college but switched to political science – a move he doesn’t regret.

“It was the second semester at Norwich (University in Northfield, Vt.) when I decided that environmental science – with all of those science courses – was not for me,” he said.

Also during this time, Molino joined the U.S. Coast Guard reserve as a Petty Officer 2nd Class and stayed on until 2007.

While political science can be a broad field, Molino focused on a degree in management, enrolling at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University of Albany. He overcame some initial doubts to earn a Master of Public Policy degree (the public sector version of an MBA).

“The program was one of the best in the country,” Molino said, noting that many international students – from the Eastern bloc and Asia -- were there “to learn public administration from the American values perspective.”

But Molino said he still wasn’t sure that he made the right move – “I wondered why I was here?” he said – until he took a local government seminar course taught by Bob McEvoy, a retired Schenectady County manager who became Molino’s mentor.

After graduate school and a one-year stint as a management assistant in Schenectady County, in 2004 Molino accepted the position of assistant to the village manager in Port Chester in Westchester County.

His responsibilities included developing budgets for the village’s geographic information system (GIS), leading a yearlong study of sanitation services, coordinating stormwater management, digitizing documents to improve workflow and negotiating labor contracts for 150 full-time employees.

“That was a different environment … a lot of the county’s villages and towns have managers,” Molino said. “When the Batavia assistant manager job was advertised, I applied, thinking that it was an opportunity to come back upstate. It was my journey back north, so to speak.”

It was his first experience with Western New York, however.

“I remember getting into town and stopping at the Chamber of Commerce office, which was downtown, and I grabbed some quarters to put in the parking meters,” he said. “I then realized that I didn’t have to pay for parking. Now that was something I didn’t live with. The next thing I did was check out Royal Rink (now Falleti Ice Arena).”

Molino’s interest in the ice rink stems from his years as a hockey player in Saratoga Springs, a passion that continues today as a goalie in the Batavia Men’s Hockey League.

At the time of his hiring as assistant city manager, Molino said he was unaware of the City’s financial difficulties. It didn’t take him long to see there were problems, however.

“It was around the summer of 2006 when I made Council aware that the City was late in disclosing financial statements,” he said. “There were six to seven years of operational deficits, and I was making a presentation a month to Council that this is what has been happening, and made immediate, short-term and long-term recommendations.”

Shortly thereafter, Molino replaced Matthew Coppler as city manager and embarked on a mission to erase a $2.2 million fund balance deficit. At the age of 26, he was the youngest city manager in the state.

“It was a difficult time,” he recalled. “We had no assistant, the deputy director of finance had left and the City Clerk was on maternity leave.”

Molino said his initial strategy was to draft a balanced budget and “stop the bleeding.”

“We took drastic measures, realizing a small surplus in operations, but the next budget (2007-08) was painful – reduction of services, retirement incentives, tax increases and staff cuts. ”We didn’t even have the proper equipment at that time as the City hadn’t purchased a piece of equipment in 10 years.”

Working together, Molino and City Council managed to stay out of the red every year since, unless there were planned expenditures, such as capital improvement plans and infrastructure projects.

Starting in 2009 and continuing to this day, Molino implemented best practices for budgeting, and the City has been honored by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for the past three years for its budget presentation.

The year 2009 was an important year for Molino personally as he and Batavia native Anna Lesh were married following a two-year courtship. They reside on the city’s northwest side with children, Sophia Dinehart, a senior at Batavia High; Stella, 7; Charley, 5, and Jason Jr., 3.

Other important changes in the past eight years include consolidating police dispatch with Genesee County, abolishing the City’s ambulance service, developing a plan to revitalize the downtown Brownfield Opportunity Area (notably the Batavia Pathways to Prosperity funding arm), and participating in the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“All of this has been driven by us trying to save money and improve operations,” Molino said. “We received pushback, for sure, because these were big decisions, tough decisions. Council made the decisions in light of severe financial challenges.”

Fairport Village Manager Bryan White, who at 37 is on a parallel career track with Molino since their time at Rockefeller College, gives Molino glowing reviews for restoring Batavia’s fiscal health.

“I don’t think Batavia understands the caliber of manager that Jason is,” said White, the current president of the NYS City/County Management Association (a position formerly held by Molino). “He is a true professional who is driven to succeed, who cares about the community and is well-rounded in regard to his thinking and processes.”

White said Molino’s status as a “credentialed manager” speaks volumes.

“You have to be in the program for over seven years just to apply, and you have to prove to your peers that you have achieved a level of competency in public sector management and local government,” he said.

Molino has been successful, White said, by “building an environment that fosters leadership, confidence, and accountability.”

Today, Batavia has emerged from the “recovery mode,” as Molino puts it, into a “growth mode that can propel the community to greater things.”

And last month’s announcement that the City won the $10 million DRI award for the Finger Lakes Region will make Molino’s campaign of $100 Million, I’m All In campaign much more reachable.

“We’re looking for $100 million in investment in the City by 2022,” he said. “With input from the staff, support from Council and the community, we can do it.”

In the meantime, the City has secured $2.5 million in funding for extensive street repair on Union, Clinton, Vine, Liberty and South Liberty streets, and East Avenue in 2018, work that will include resurfacing, sidewalks and water lines, Molino said.

All told, the City has made a remarkable recovery – tax increases, if any, have been minimal; state and federal money is coming in and it looks as though a solution to the ongoing dilemma known as the City Centre Mall is near.

Molino indicated that interviews for the assistant city manager position are concluding and that a final candidate will be introduced within a couple weeks. Batavia has been without an assistant to Molino since the departure of Gretchen DiFante in July.

 “There have been challenges and curveballs, but throughout all of this, City Council has made the decisions to allow these things to progress – a lot of important decisions,” said Molino, who manages a $25 million budget and a workforce of 140 (full-time equivalent).

He said that discussions are ongoing with the owner of property on Swan Street, a parcel targeted by a city task force for a potential site for a new police headquarters.

“We’re trying to get a contract for a sale in front of Council,” he said, adding that a facility with a $10 million to $15 million price tag would have a significant impact on taxes – and will trigger community input from those on both sides of the fence.

Molino said he understands that public criticism of those charged with making the decisions comes with the territory.

“Anybody that gets into this line of work must accept the fact that he or she will be criticized publicly,” he said. “Even with the best of intentions and ideas, it is the people’s right to criticize. While I don’t take it personally, sometimes people cross the line.

“But at the end of the day, I’m recommending what I believe to be the best possible solutions, giving Council the information to make its decision.”

October 25, 2017 - 8:14am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Jason Molino.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski says that a combination of maturity and patience has enabled City Manager Jason Molino to have grown “by leaps and bounds” since he took over as a fledgling administrator in 2006.

“You have to credit the city manager for putting the right people in the right place, and trusting them to do their job,” said Jankowski, a former city police officer who has served as City Council president for the past two years. “Over the last four years, he has grown exponentially – looking at the big picture and making moves today that will have a positive outcome down the road.”

Jankowski said City Council and management have worked as a team to overcome hard times in Batavia, but acknowledged that it hasn’t been an easy road for Molino.

“He started out kind of young and that was a disadvantage in that respect. He was thrust into it and had a lot of ground to make up,” Jankowski said.

Molino made decisions in the late 2000s that were “not popular,” according to Jankowski, who admitted that he did not agree with many of them.

“It was a bad situation; we had to tighten our belt,” he said. “Eventually, there was daylight, thanks to strong budgeting and fiscal responsibility. The past four years, Council has taken more responsibility and now we are in the building stage, with a little room to look toward the future.”

Jankowski said that all of the good things happening today – revitalization of the former Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, the JJ Newberry building on Main Street, the $10 million state DRI award, fixing the City Centre Mall situation – have come about as a result of strategic planning and implementation.

“Council made these priorities and Jason has been working on these for several years,” he said. “He has built bridges and through careful planning has made this happen.”

Jankowski said that a true sign of maturity was Molino’s approach to a second DRI application after Batavia lost out in its initial attempt.

“He did his research and modified the second application with a totally different pitch – a total different angle,” he said. “He learned from things that didn’t go so well and made the adjustments to make it work.”

All in all, Jankowski said he was encouraged and excited over the City’s recent good fortune.

“We even were able to buy a $900,000 fire truck, paying in cash, and that is due to Jason’s foresight by keeping the budget trim. Normally, we would have had to take out a bond and pay thousands of dollars in interest over so many years.”

Jankowski said Molino deserves to be acknowledged for hanging tough.

“When things were going bad, he took the heat,” he said. “Now that things have turned around, he should get the credit.” 

October 10, 2017 - 10:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, Jason Molino.

Unless the subject is brought to the table in the coming weeks – and that is a possibility – Batavia City Manager Jason Molino will not be getting a raise this year.

Tonight City Council voted 5-4 against a 2.75-percent salary increase for Molino, who has been instrumental in the community’s Downtown resurgence, which recently was punctuated by a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York State.

Council members Rose Mary Christian, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, Paul Viele and Robert Bialkowski voted “no” to the raise, while Adam Tabelski, John Canale, Pattie Pacino and Council President Eugene Jankowski voted “yes.”

The 2.75-percent hike, which was in the city budget, would have upped Molino’s annual pay from $93,782 – reportedly the lowest salary for a city manager in the state – to $96,361.

Even before the resolution came up in the meeting, Christian took the floor, stating that she had “some questions” about the process because it is the “taxpayers’ money.” Jankowski cut her off, and said that everything would be covered in executive session after the public meeting.

When the matter came up again (it was the last resolution on the agenda), Bialkowski contended that the raise had not been presented in the form of a resolution as required by the City Charter. Both Jankowski and Molino countered that it was put forth as a draft resolution in July – a fact confirmed by this reporter’s check of the July Conference Meeting agenda.

Bialkowski made a motion to delay the vote again, but that was defeated 6-3, after Christian questioned whether some on the Council up for election this year wanted to wait "because if it's passed now, you won't get elected."

She also, once again, questioned the process used to determine raises.

“I don’t like the system and I don’t like the 2.75 percent,” she said. “This comes up every January, so we go to the next budget, and they say we gave Jason 2.75 percent, so we have to give the department heads the same 2.75.”

Jankowski said that January is the time to discuss that and that Council is in the “process of changing the procedure, which will be talked about in executive session.”

Following the meeting, Jankowski said he previously asked that the vote be delayed to the fall since he knew he was going to miss a meeting and “wanted to be here to vote on it because it is controversial.”

“I wanted my intentions to be known, which were to reward the city manager for his proper work over the last year – it was budgeted for in January for him getting a favorable evaluation, which he did receive,” Jankowski said. “So I felt obligated to honor that contract.”

Jankowski and Bialkowski both said they thought the issue could be presented to Council again, with the former stating that he was going to explore the options going forward.

Molino, contacted by phone after the executive session, did not want to comment on the record.

Hired in July 2006, Molino is responsible for a workforce of about 140 (full-time equivalents) and manages a $25 million budget. The city’s budget presentation was honored for the third straight year by Government Finance Officers Association (see press release below).

In other developments, Council:

-- Heard a report on the city’s audit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, which produced “overall positive results,” said Laura Landers, CPA, of Freed Maxick.

“The unassigned fund balances put the city in a stable position,” said Landers, who highlighted the community’s statement of net position for its general, water and sewer funds.

Landers said the city was required to have a full audit this year – and likely for the next few years – because it expended more than $750,000 in federal Department of Transportation funds.

On the general fund, she said revenues of $16.2 million were less than expenditures of $17.6 million, thus decreasing the fund balance to $7.1 million, but that was done by design.

“It was a planned use of reserves of almost $1.7 million for sidewalks, capital improvements, and equipment,” Landers said, as well as for (as Molino pointed out), a fire truck and health-care expenses.

Landers noted that actual revenues were slightly less than budgeted, sales tax revenue also came in less than budgeted and expenditures – continuing a 10-year trend – also were less than the budgeted figure.

Of the $7.1 million fund balance, $1.8 million is unassigned, meaning that it can be used for whatever City Council wishes, Landers said.

Both the water and sewer funds showed operating surpluses, and have $2.4 million and $3.5 million in funds restricted for capital improvements, Landers said.

-- Was updated by Molino on the progress of the $10 million in DRI funds that were awarded to the city last week when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in town.

Molino said the state has selected a consultant, LaBella Associates, a Western New York firm which has done work in the past for the Town and City of Batavia, and will be choosing a steering committee in the next couple weeks with the goal of submitting projects to the governor’s office.

“It’s a rough process – similar to a Request for Proposal process with certain criteria,” he said. “I would think that less is more in order to be able to evaluate projects, but there’s really not a lot of concrete information to give you at this point.”

Still, the program is on a fast track, Molino said, as recommendations are expected to be sent to Albany by February.

-- Voted unanimously to adopt the updated Comprehensive Plan after learning that some grammatical and formatting errors in the 100-plus-page document will be rectified and that all items, particularly form-based codes, will have to be brought before Council prior to being implemented.

Bialkowski said he was dismayed that errors existed in the document in light of the fact that Council authorized spending $100,000 for outside consultants to update the plan for the first time in about 20 years.

-- Voted to release five properties sold at auction to the highest bidders as follows: 29 Brooklyn Ave., Louie Kingsbury, $4,000; 200 S. Swan St., Geib Corporation, $20,000; 1 Watson St., Justin and Yasmeen Calmes, $13,500; 46 Swan St., Justin and Yasmeen Calmes, $1,500; and 2 Willow St., Robert Fritschi, $19,000.

September 23, 2016 - 1:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in city of batavia, Jason Molino, news.

Press release:

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) is pleased to announced that the City of Batavia, New York has received the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget.

The award represents a signficant achievement by the entity. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of government budgeting. In order to receive the award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity's budget serves as:

  • a policy document;
  • a financial plan;
  • an operations guide;
  • and a communications device.

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual or department designated as being primarily responsible for its having achieved the award. This has been presented to City Manager Jason Molino.

For budgets beginning in 2015, approximately 1,550 participants received the award. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

The Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of approximately 18,700 appointed and elected local, state, and provencial-level government officials and other finance practitioners. It provides top-quality publications, training programs, services, and products designed to enhance the skills and performance of those responsible for government finance policy and management.

The association is headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Washington, D.C. The GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.

 

November 9, 2015 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Millennials, comprehensive plan, Jason Molino.

molinogreenhousenov82015-3.jpg

Batavia's landscape is changing, with more vegetable gardens, chicken coops and solar panels, and that's a trend the city would like to see continue, said City Manager Jason Molino while showing off his family's new greenhouse in the backyard of their home on Vernon Avenue.

Molino said code enforcement officers Ron Panek and Doug Randall report seeing more and more of these sort of backyard amenities, which is right in line with the city's strategic thinking about creating a more livable and sustainable environment, the kind of environment marketing studies and news reports show Millennials are seeking.

"This is just one example of what you can do," Molino said. "It shows how you can take your space and make it more livable and enjoyable for the whole family."

This particular greenhouse cost Molino a bit less than $900 to build, and the size of it required a city permit. But greenhouses can be built for a lot less and at a smaller scale so that no permit is required. As the city goes through its comprehensive plan review, one thing planners will be asked to consider is how to both streamline the process and protect the ability of residents to incorporate these sort of projects into their yards.

Every board, nail and pane of glass was locally sourced, Molino said, including the unique roof, which is a green roof grown right here in Batavia.

Comprised of several varieties of sedum, which is a plant that stores water and grows well in a wide range of climate zones, green roofs help insulate a building, control stormwater runoff (and thereby inhibit the flow of pollutants into storm drains) and improve air quality.

Vegetal I.D. is a company based in Batavia (the U.S. division of the French company Le Prieuré) that grows trays of sedum for green roofs on land leased from C.Y. Farms. The company's customer base, said Sander Teensma, is within a 500-mile radius of Batavia, which brings in a variety of climates where these sedum roofs thrive.

"This is an idea that is gaining momentum," Teensma said. 

For the Molino family, the greenhouse is a project "that took on a life of its own," Jason said. For the past few years, the Molinos have been growing vegetables in their backyard, and as their children have gotten older, they've become more active participants in the process. It's a life-learning lesson the Molinos want to encourage. So they started talking about what they could do next -- more raised beds, a chicken coop, or perhaps a greenhouse.

Molino got his uncle involved and they started designing a greenhouse and finding sources of local material for construction. One thing led to another, and Molino decided a green roof would be perfect for the project, especially since there was a local company that could provide the roof.

And the whole project fits right in with the direction of the city's plan for a revised comprehensive plan that aims to focus on amenities and lifestyle choices for the up-and-coming generation of Americans who seek a life less defined by corporate dictates, more authentic in food choices and more environmentally conscious.

The comprehensive plan can help guide the city toward the kind of living environment people increasingly seem to be seeking so it doesn't lose out on the growth opportunity.

"We incorporate those ideas into the comprehensive plan so we advance the ideas and they can be done more easily," Molino said. "It helps market the community to capture a lot of the growth that's going to happen in the county over the next 10 years."

If projects such as STAMP are successful -- and the coming of 1366 Technologies is a hopeful sign -- then it should mean an influx of the kind of jobs Millennials will seek, then it's critical for Batavia to position itself as a livable community for those workers, or risk losing most of them to Buffalo or Rochester.

"The comprehensive plan reflects the values we want to see in the community over the next five to 10 years," Molino said. "We want to encourage and make it easier (to build these sorts of projects). If these are the amenities and quality-of-life features that people want, and we're seeing a trend when they buy homes and properties, how do we ensure that we can continue that trend and how can we build off of that? That's what the comprehensive plan does."

molinogreenhousenov82015-2.jpg

Craig Yunker, of C.Y. Farms, Jason Molino, Sander Teensma, and Paul Brent, production manager for Vegetal I.D.

molinogreenhousenov82015.jpg

July 15, 2015 - 2:50pm
posted by Billie Owens in Jason Molino, batavia.

Press release:

Jason R. Molino, city manager of the City of Batavia, has been appointed to a one-year term on the 16-member Executive Committee of the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials.

Mayor Richard Milne of the Village of Honeoye Falls, president of the Conference of Mayors, made the selection. Molino will represent NYCOM's affiliate organizations and is the only member of the Committee who is not a mayor.

In announcing the appointment, Mayor Milne said "Jason Molino is a recognized leader and innovator in the field of local government administration, and NYCOM will clearly benefit from his energy and ideas."

Molino was the recipient of the 2014 Local Government Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance from the International City and County Management Association. Prior to coming to Batavia, he served as the assistant to the village manager for the Village of Port Chester. He also spent seven years in the Coast Guard Reserve where he earned the rank of Boatswain's Mate Second Class.

Molino has his bacherlor's degree in Political Science from Norwich University and went on to earn his master's degree in Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs.

The Conference of Mayors is the statewide association representing New York's cities and villages. Since 1910, NYCOM has united local government officials in an active network of legislative advocacy, technical assistance and municipal training.

January 15, 2015 - 3:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Jason Molino, Milestones.

Press release:

Jason Molino, City Manager for the City of Batavia, recently received the Credentialed Manager designation from ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. Jason is one of over 1,300 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program.

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by promoting professional management worldwide and increasing the proficiency of appointed chief administrative officers, assistant administrators, and other employees who serve local governments and regional entities around the world. The organization’s nearly 9,000 members in 27 countries also include educators, students, and other local government employees.

To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.

Jason is qualified by more than eight years of professional local government executive experience. Prior to his appointment in 2006 as City Manager of Batavia, he served as the Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Port Chester, NY.  In addition, Jason served as a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the United State Coast Guard Reserve from 2000-2007

Highlights of Jason’s ICMA membership include: member of the 2009 Montreal ICMA Conference Planning Committee and most recently the City of Batavia and Jason were recognized by ICMA as recipients for the 2014 Program Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance.
Jason has also made significant contributions to a number of other organizations, including: serving as Board Member of the New York State City/County Management Association, current member and former President of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Graduate of Leadership Genesee – Class of 2008.

July 15, 2014 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino.

On a 5-3 vote, the City Council agreed Monday to give City Manager Jason Molino a 2.5 percent raise, retroactive to April 1.

It was a merit raise, said Councilman John Canale.

Councilman Eugene Jankowski expressed concern that the public hasn't been given adequate opportunity to hear from council members on why Molino deserves a raise and to voice their own opinions.

"At this point, we're limiting ourselves to only one discussion," Jankowski said. "It sends a message of some kind of exception being made and I don't think that's the case. It's just an oversight."

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian also objected to the seeming lack of public discussion prior to the vote.

"This was all handled in executive session and never brought to the floor for any kind of discussion," Christian said. "You can't vote for spending public monies without a discussion, so we should have the discussion and take it from there."

City Attorney George Van Ness explained to council members that Molino's raise this time around is being handled no different than it's been handled in the past and no different from any other employees or any labor agreement.

The particulars are discussed in open session, a consensus is reached among council members, and then a vote is held at a business meeting, where more discussion can take place -- as was taking place Monday night -- before the vote.

"Matters related to the employment issues of a particular individual are appropriately discussed in an executive session," Van Ness said. "If it comes to a situation where there's a decision about the award of or wage adjustment, that's a matter that's presented for public discussion and a public vote. That's what's teed up here this evening."

Councilman John Deleo missed Monday's meeting because of another obligation, but provided Jankowski with a written statement on his behalf objecting to the raise and stating that the hiring of an assistant city manager was supposedly intended to lesson Molino's workload.

Councilman Kris Doeringer said he believed that was a misstatement of why an assistant city manager was hired.

"She was hired to do more work, not lesson Jason's workload," Doeringer said. "We were concerned about Jason's workload and everything he needs to get done and everything the city needs to get done to move forward."

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said the merit of the raise was discussed extensively over two executive sessions.

"We did talk at length," Pacino said. "We discussed whether we should give him a raise or not give him a raise, what did he do to deserve a raise. We really discussed it all. I understand we should bring it out in the open and people can say negative things as well, but we really did discuss this a lot."

Members Kathy Briggs, Jankowski and Christian all voted no on giving Molino a raise.

October 5, 2013 - 12:45pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, Jason Molino, Sidewalk.

With this long stretch of summer-like weather, many people are jogging and walking in Batavia. Some are tripping over sidewalks that are uneven and bowed by ever expanding tree roots and others are not able to use them at all.

The sidewalk on the east side of Fairmont and Norris was one such case: It was cracked and buckled several inches, making it difficult to walk on for most people and impossible for Marguerite Badami to push her elderly, wheelchair-bound father across.

"My father is a longtime resident of the area and I take him for walks every day," Badami said. "I always have to push him in the street because there is just no way I can get his wheelchair over that huge bump on the sidewalk."

The city is responsible for repairs to sidewalks that are inoperable and uneven, those which present walking and tripping hazards. If they cannot be patched, then the concrete has to be removed, the roots ground down and new cement poured.

Peter Corbelli and his family live in the house adjacent to the same sidewalk. We interviewed him a few days before repairs began and he said couldn't understand why the city hadn't done anything about it.

"It was in bad shape when we moved here in 1998 and it just gets worse every year," Corbelli said.

We left a message with City Manager Jason Molino on Thursday about the sidewalk problem. On Friday, he said it was scheduled for repairs this fall and that they were taking care of it.

Later that day, residents of Fairmont and Norris informed us that city construction on the sidewalk finally began.

"The city spent $500,000 in the last five years on sidewalk fixes and we're making this a priority," Molino said. "We are attacking the areas that are used the most often, then working our way out. We are getting there slowly, but surely."

Although the city is making progress, this is an ongoing project. There are thousands of trees here and many of them are silver maples, which have aggressive root systems that can cause serious damage to sidewalks and power lines.

"Batavia spends $25,000 a year on tree removal and another $5,000 on planting different species of less invasive trees," Molino said.

September 14, 2013 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino.

Press release:

Batavia City Manager, Jason Molino, spoke to approximately 75 attendees at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday during the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) 2013 Fall Training School that took place this week in Saratoga Springs.

Molino addressed the group as part of a discussion about budgeting and finance, a topic which Molino has been asked to speak about before. Molino shared Batavia’s budgeting process and outlined the way in which it has been successfully linked to the City’s Strategic Plan the past three years. He also shared Batavia’s achievements in developing a progressive employee wellness plan, successful water loss program and cost-effective sewer infrastructure improvements.

Last year Molino was invited to address attendees at NYCOM’s 2012 CFO Summit about Batavia’s Wellness Initiative.

“Our wellness initiative has resulted in higher employee and spouse participation as well as aggressive pursuit to minimize future healthcare costs for the City,” Molino said, “and after the summit last year, I received multiple phone calls from other cities and villages requesting more details about our wellness initiative.”

“One of NYCOM’s core functions is to educate and train local officials, and the September conference is our largest conference of the year,” said Barbara VanEpps, NYCOM’s deputy director. “During this conference, it’s important that our members walk away with a wealth of knowledge. We keep inviting Jason (Molino) to speak to our members because he has provided many good ideas regarding initiatives that the City of Batavia has undertaken that not have only helped Batavia to reduce expenses and function more efficiently, but that can also be replicated in other cities and villages across the state.”

“We are thrilled that Jason has been asked to represent Batavia on the state level for three years in a row,” said Batavia City Councilwoman Patty Pacino. “Jason is constantly pushing the envelope seeking to make Batavia a better, more viable place to live and work, and he is also an excellent teacher. The fact that NYCOM continues to invite Jason to help educate others clearly demonstrates the respect Jason has earned from other city, village and town leaders. This kind of recognition is important for Batavia, because while we realize that the programs we are doing and the decisions we are making are effective, being recognized by the state serves to reinforce the quality of those decisions.”

NYCOM, founded in 1910, has 1,579 members which include counties, cities, towns and villages across New York State. NYCOM’s mission is threefold: to serve as an advocate for city and village governments and their taxpayers before the state’s government; to serve as a readily accessible source of practical information for every area of municipal activity; and to serve as the preeminent provider of training for local government officials.

July 10, 2012 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino.

City Manager Jason Molino's 1.5-percent raise approved unanimously by the Batavia City Council on Monday is "reasonable," said Council President Tim Buckley after the meeting.

"In today’s economy (it) is very reasonable," Buckley said. "It’s not a lot of money, but it shows something that council supports him and his efforts."

Molino will now make $86,009.

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said, "he deserves it. Trust me, he does."

Pacino credited Molino with greatly improving the city's financial standing.

"When I started on this council we were ready to turn the lights off in the city and now we have a rating of A2," Pacino said. "He knows what he’s doing and he’s taking us there."

Buckley said Molino's recent performance review "came back with high marks."

The only criticism of Molino's raise heard in council chambers Monday was from John Roach, who suggested Molino should be required to give up his six-month severance package before getting any more raises.

"If he's ever fired, even for cause, he gets six months severance," Roach said. "I think $43,000 is excessive."

Roach added, "Obviously, the council didn't agree with me."

The 1.5-percent raise was part of the city's last approved budget and is in line with what other non-union workers are getting.

Molino said he's grateful for the vote of confidence from the council.

September 14, 2010 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, Jason Molino.

councilaudit02a.jpg

In the years since Jason Molino took over as city manager, Batavia has gone from an annual deficit of $1.2 million to a surplus in 2009-2010 of $475,800.

Yet, minutes after the City Council heard an audit report on the city's improving financial condition, the council split 4-5 on a motion to meet in a closed session to grant Molino -- among the lowest paid top administrators of any city in the state -- a modest raise.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked to postpone the discussion saying he had only recently received information that should be investigated before a vote on Molino's compensation.

When the council did go into closed session, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian declined to join the discussion.

There are families in Batavia that are hurting financially, Christian said, and until the economy turns around, she can't support any increase in spending.

While the other council members huddled behind a closed door, Christian said she thinks highly of Molino.

council-audit01.jpg"I am not opposed to Jason Molino by any means," Christian said. "I’m opposed to any more spending."

When the council emerged, a resolution was passed on an 8-1 vote granting Molino a 1.5-percent pay increase retroactive to April 1, 2010.

Molino makes $84,260. The top administrator in Beacon, with a population 2,000 less than Batavia, makes $123,000. In Cortland, with a slightly bigger population, the top administrator makes $101,000. Geneva's city manager makes $94,000. (See Through New York for salaries; CityTownInfo.com for populations.)

Meanwhile, an audit report prepared by Freed Maxick & Battaglia shows that the city matched actual revenue with budgeted revenue in the recent fiscal year, after three consecutive years of exceeding revenue projections.

On the expenditure side of the ledger, the city, for the third-straight year kept spending below budget levels, with $445,000 saved in 2009-10.

Auditor Laura Landers (inset picture) credited the city with conservative budgeting, cuts in 2008-09, a decrease in health insurance costs, not filling vacant positions and deferring expenditures on aging equipment.

The city has been able to build a fund balance of $2.8 million over the past four years. In 2006, the fund balance was in the red $1.3 million.

The fund balance allows the city to build reserves for workers' compensation, insurance, capital projects, employee benefits and other reserves necessary to provide the city with a cushion against deficit spending.

Among the areas Molino recommends building up fund reserves for is the Department of Public Works and fire department equipment. He recommends reserves of $150,000 for DPW and $50,000 for fire. Within five years, Molino said, the fire department will need a new pumper.

"Right now, most of our equipment, if not all, is completely depreciated," Molino said. "Last year was the first time we purchased equipment in about seven or eight years."

councilaudit03b.jpg

While I was trying to take a picture of Christian alone in the council chambers, Chief Randy Baker came over and started talking with her, and then Jason Molino wanted to jump in the picture.

September 14, 2009 - 10:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino.

Without discussion, but with one dissenting vote, the Batavia City Council tonight approved a 2.8 percent pay raise for City Manager Jason Molino.

The vote came following a closed session and before the vote, Council President Charlie Mallow read a statement expressing the council's support for Molino.

Councilman Bill Cox voted no and said after the meeting his decision was based on a "personnel matter" and wouldn't reveal the reason for his no vote.

"I felt at this time a raise was not in order and that's all I want to say," Cox said.

Mallow characterized the pay increase as a cost-of-living raise that Molino wouldn't have gotten if he didn't deserve it.

Prior to the vote, Mallow said, each council member submitted a review of Molino's work.

“The city is in good shape and a lot of that has to do with our city manager," Mallow said. "The council supports the city manager and that’s the reason for the raise."

The motion passed 7-1, with Council Bob Bialkowski absent.

Molino was also not at the meeting.

UPDATE: Councilman Cox released this statement this morning:

"The primary reason that I voted against the raise for City Manager Molino is the same reason I voted against the raises for the other non-union staff previously, which is economics.

Our citizens and taxpayers have heavy burdens of property taxes, school taxes, and water/sewer taxes. We have property owners and citizens who have lost their jobs due to the economy. We have retired people on pensions that have been reduced and those same retired citizens have lost health benefits or had them reduced in many cases.

When you are in a position of senior management and leadership you should demonstrate to the people that you understand the dire circumstances many are under and forgo a raise until the economy turns around."
 

September 9, 2009 - 11:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jason Molino.

Among the items on the agenda for Monday's City Council meeting is a resolution authorizing a pay increase for City Manager Jason Molino.

The resolution states, "WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Batavia wishes to grant a wage adjustment to the City Manager for the current year based on his performance evaluation."

If approved, Molino's base pay would go up 2.85 percent to $83,487 and would be retroactive to April 1.

May 19, 2009 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Daily News, Jason Molino.

The Batavia Daily News seems intent on teaching City Manager Jason Molino a little lesson after getting scooped on Fire Chief Tom Dillon's resignation. The lesson: Don't fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

Friday, Batavia's "paper of record" published an editorial slamming what they called City Manager Jason Molino's secrecy.

It was pretty harsh.

City administrator Jason Molino, isn't talking, and neither are ''his'' employees -- we say "his" because that is how he refers to them, even though taxpayers pay their salaries.

In the editorial, they say Dillon's resignation became public only because a help wanted ad was spotted in the Democrat and Chronicle. That's not, shall we say, accurate.

The Batavian broke the story and it had nothing to do with an ad appearing in the D&C. If you read the original post, you'll see, we didn't even know about the ad when we first posted our story. We got the story the good old-fashioned way -- by talking with sources.

Of course, the Daily can't give credit where credit's due -- that would violate Tom Turnbull's mandate that the newspaper never print The Batavian's name (well, they did have to take our LLC ad).

Yet, the staff there pays attention when we get stories before them, and the Dillon scoop seems to have particularly rubbed the "newspaper of record" the wrong way.

Today, the lead story is about the fire chief but it doesn't tell readers much new. We already know that Molino would handle interim administrative duties for the department and that the four captains turned down the interim position. That takes care of the first two paragraphs of the story. From there, we're treated to the details of the Daily trying to get more information from the city and Molino's unresponsiveness.

The Daily News had asked City Manager Jason Molino what the city's plan was in lieu of a chief. He did not return phone calls or e-mails. Cox forwarded questions from The Daily News to Molino, who then sent a reply to all councilmen. He still has not replied to The Daily News.

After explaining the 211 waiver situation (again, nothing new here), we get more back-and-forth on the Daily's attempts to get more information from the city. Then we read again the fiction that the public wouldn't have known about the situation if the Daily hadn't asked:

The Daily News had also sent an e-mail last week to all City Councilmen to find out why the public was kept in the dark about Dillon's departure. The news was publicized only after The Daily News asked Molino and Dillon about Dillon's employment status.

Now, I can certainly sympathize with the editorial staff's frustration at getting shut out of communication with Jason Molino and city staff. We've made those complaints public ourselves, and perhaps with a tad too much arrogance and pettiness, but some honest reporting is in order here. The Daily got beat. It happens in a competitive news town. Between the Daily, The Batavian and WBTA, we've all had our own scoops in the past several months, and we will all continue to develop our own sources and stories and get some of them first. That's the way it goes. Unless a source deliberately burns you, there's no point in getting upset with government officials because another news outlet did its job and got the information.

UPDATE: I just saw the print edition -- this story is banner headline on the top of the front page.  Meanwhile, Pagent of the Bands folding after 35 years, and the Daily put most of that story below the fold. That's a huge story in a community like this.  Nice scoop. Wish I had it.

February 24, 2009 - 11:14pm
posted by Charlie Mallow in city, Jason Molino, Sally Kuzon.

I just returned tonight from Albany. I think we had a very successful effort. I will be sharing that information with you in another post within the next couple of days.

For now, I need to share with you the pride I have for our City Manager Jason Molino and his Assistant Sally Kuzon. Over the last couple of days, working on a tight schedule and during very stressful time, they both represented the city with distinction. The preparation they showed and their knowledge of the subject matter they displayed was exceptional. They both cast a very large shadow and I am grateful for all their hard work.

Thank You Both!!!

 

November 10, 2008 - 8:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, thebatavian, Jason Molino.

The first hint of  trouble came in early May, when The Batavian was but a sprout on the Genesee County media landscape.

After initially welcoming The Batavian enthusiastically, we found out that Batavia City Manager Jason Molino told city employees not to cooperate with The Batavian. We could not even get copies of City Council agendas.

We eventually overcame that specific disability, but we've had an ongoing problem with getting answers from Mr. Molino to basic questions related to city governance, and a general lack of full disclosure form the city and its staff when we've sought it.

Two weeks ago, we took our case to the Batavia City Council. The response was, shall we say, tepid.

And we're disappointed.

Here's our position: The Batavian is a legitimate news organization. We may be web-only; our approach to news may be non-traditional; we may be new to the community, but the First Amendment doesn't address any of those issues. It merely enjoins government agencies to respect press freedom.

To us, that means not merely the right to publish as we see fit, but to have free and unfettered access to the government taxpayers support.

For the past several months, we've found that while the city manager will willingly speak with the Daily News and WBTA, he has completely cut out The Batavian as a channel for information to the citizenry on his positions, policies and actions.

He also maintains an inexplicable and unusually tight reign on the tongues of other city staff members.

At first, we hoped for improvement, but with none forthcoming, we began documenting Mr. Molino's failure to respond to interview requests. We documented 13 such instances, including instances where he would later be quoted in other media on the same topic, as well as an instance where Mr. Molino had the new fire chief cancel a video interview with The Batavian.

We've kept quiet about this issue because we were hoping for a friendly resolution to the disagreement over fair access, but since the council meeting two weeks ago, we've been trying to get a lunch appointment with Mr. Molino (The Batavian will pay:  Larry's Steakhouse, any afternoon on 24 hours notice). Mr. Molino has declined the invitation.

Given his lack of willingness to fairly discuss this issue, we've decided it is time to offer readers of The Batavian full disclosure about what has been going on.

As a matter of fairness to readers of The Batavian, we believe we are obligated to keep them informed on any issue that inhibits us from fully and faithfully gathering and disseminating information of public interest. While we regret withholding information about this lack of access until now, we hope readers will understand we did so only because we were seeking to settle this issue amicably long ago, and have persisted in this effort in good faith.

The readers of The Batavian have the same rights as the subscribers of the Daily News and the listeners of WBTA to have a representative of this news organization call upon city officials, ask questions and get answers.  It's a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution.

Clearly, not all city officials agree.

When we first launched The Batavian, we were happy to find in Mr. Molino a welcoming attitude to the expansion of Batavia's media choices. Unfortunately, only days later, he clammed up. In fact, he told all city employees not to cooperate with us in any manner, including denying us access to routine government documents, such as City Council agendas.

Upon further investigation, we learned that City Attorney George Van Nest had told city officials that The Batavian was not "official media" therefore not entitled to any communication from the city.

That was a curious statement for an attorney to make, so I called Mr. Van Nest and confirmed that he did indeed make that statement. I reminded him that under the First Amendment, there is no such thing as "official press."  After much discussion, he agreed to allow the city to release routine government documents to us and promised full and fair access.

We have not gotten it.

After our presentation to the Council two weeks ago, only one council member spoke to the topic of our speech.  The lack of interest by the Council may, frankly, have owed to the degree to which we placed the burden for lack of access on Mr. Molino.  We've since heard that some council members objected to that tone of the presentation, even those who had encouraged us to make a public plea for greater access, not just for The Batavian, but all of the local media (Mr. Molino does not allow any city staff to speak to any media).

The lone council member to speak on the topic was Bill Cox. He made the clearly contradicted statement -- he had in front of him contrary evidence at the time -- that The Batavian was receiving the same access as any other media outlet.

Since we've reached what seems to be an insurmountable impasse, we think it's only fair we bring this subject to the attention of our readers.

We're not looking for a fight.  We could, if we wanted, start posting Jason's phone number and e-mail address every time we had a question and ask readers to get the information needed; or, we could openly encourage city employees to give us anonymous tips on city business; or we could file a lawsuit. 

The first two options would only serve to cause further hard feelings, and a lawsuit, costing taxpayers money, would subvert our goal to do what is best for Batavia.

So we are left with but a third option: To just drop the issue.

We're doing quite well without the city manager's cooperation, and we imagine we will continue to do quite well whether Mr. Molino favors us with a word or two from time to time or not.

We're not here to be the "official" news source of Batavia. We're quite happy to let the Daily News carry the mantle of "paper of record."  We just think it would be nice to get questions answered when we are curious about an issue or event. If Mr. Molino is unwilling to do that, we think in the long run he is causing more harm to the city than he is to The Batavian. If we're right about that, our best course may be just to let well enough alone and trust that eventually, Mr. Molino or his successor, probably many years from now, will find it counter productive to give any media the silent treatment.

I've uploaded two related documents to our position -- a PDF of court cases that support our position, and a letter from the New York Newspaper Publishers' Association specifically encouraging the city to cooperate with The Batavian.

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