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June 2, 2009 - 7:48pm

Documents show city complied with information requests on Dillon waiver

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire chief.

City Manager Jason Molino submitted two letters detailing the hiring process that led to the appointment of Tom Dillon as interim fire chief last year, as well as how Dillon would be replaced, but the NYS Civil Service Commission still denied the city's request for a 211 waiver because of insufficient detail, according to documents obtained by The Batavian today.

"The Municipal Service Division recommends that the State Civil Service Commission disapprove this request for lack of details on the results of the interviewing process," writes state staff in its recommendation to the commission.

The recommendation contradicts the detail on recruitment efforts and interviewing contained in two letters, with attachments, provided by Molino to the commission. One letter was submitted Oct. 8, 2008 and another on Jan. 16, 2009, four days before the commission notified Molino the city had not responded to its request for more information.

"We sent them everything they asked for," Molino said in an interview this afternoon.

Dillon resigned as fire chief last month after the state ruled that he could not continue to receive his pension from his 29 years with the Rochester Fire Department and draw a full-time salary in Batavia.  The city sought what is known as a 211 waiver, which is designed to help local governments fill vacant positions, especially on an interim basis, with retirees.

Molino attributed the denial of the waiver more (as we covered in a previous post) to a change in the state's willingness to grant 211 waivers.

"The whole point of the 211 process, it was created for interim positions for temporary periods of time and what's happened over the years is people have taken interim positions and turned them into permanent ones," Molino said.

The commission was told, Molino noted, that Dillon's appointment was intended to be temporary because at the beginning of the process, there was still some thought that the charter review process might led to a unified chief executive for police and fire (it turns out that isn't permissible under state law).

The city wanted to keep Dillon on until either a unified position was created or a civil service test for the position could be administered in January 2010.

"The other part of it was we weren't going to fill it permanently until this charter review was completed, and if there was a change in direction, we would change with it, otherwise, we would move forward with the test in January," Molino said.

The documents also reveal that prior the appointment of Dillon, all four Batavia Fire captains were considered for the position, but none were eligible for promotion.

The Batavian made its initial FOIL request the documents related to the city's waiver request a month ago. The FOIL request was fulfilled today.  Here are the documents (large PDF file).

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