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February 25, 2009 - 4:45pm

Daily News article stirs some online debate over city employee salaries

posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Daily News, city council.

Another Daily News article by Joanne Beck that takes up the issue of the assistant city manager's salary has got tempers flaring on the newspaper's Web site. Beck authored an article a couple weeks back in which she was accused of sexism for questioning why Sally Kuzon is being paid $24,000 more per year than past assistants.

In today's article, Beck writes:

City Councilmen Bob Bialkowski, Bill Cox and Rose Mary Christian say they want answers about how the assistant manager's salary was established. The total of about $84,000 includes a $2,820 car allowance, according to information provided to The Daily News.

There has never been a car allowance for an assistant manager before, Christian said. She questions why there's one for Assistant Manager Sally Kuzon, a Williamsville resident who was granted a residency waiver.

The article, which is interesting and well-written, has already garnered more than a dozen comments (and climbing) on the site.

We have still not received the information we requested from the city two weeks ago, when we filed a Freedom of Information Law request to view the salaries for all city employees for the current year, the project year and the past year. We were informed that it would take until March 30 to compile the information.

Lincoln DeCoursey
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It shouldn't take that long to come up with an employee list such as the one you requested. A record setting forth the name, public office address, title and salary of every officer or employee of the city should be maintained per the statute which you mentioned. If the city of Batavia wants to assert whatever clout its status as a small city is worth, especially in Albany like it's doing right now, then it needs a professional staff. People shouldn't be surprised that in order to maintain a professional staff, one needs to pay a professional's salary, possibly including perks. A recent article here mentioned that Batavia has seen an uptick in grant money receipts. According to that article, the already-realized increase is orders of magnitude larger than the salaries of the people who are going after that money. Beyond that, there's the city leaders current quest to bring home the bacon from the Albany trip. I'm not sure if Batavia (being quite a small city) actually has enough clout to go toe to toe in a mix-up with larger cities, but we'll know soon. Granted, I'm not sure that our country can afford to be spending like a drunken sailor. That's precisely what got us to the place we are at. However, as the city council member pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the national decision to spend a lot of money that we don't have has already been made. We as a community can respond either by being highly-principled and "doing for ourself" rather than putting our hands out, or we can put our names in and get our piece of the pie. It's the city's professional staff that buys us the option of doing the latter.
Dave Meyer
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I appreciate the leadership that Charlie Mallow has provided to our city. Batavia is fortunate to have someone who is as dedicated and passionate about resolving our serious fiscal problems. I am generally in agreement with the positions that he takes. On the issue of salaries for the administrator and his assistant however, his position seems inconsistent with the cost containment that he generally preaches. Regarding his outrage at the council being questioned about the rates of compensation for the administrators, I would say that he should take a couple deep breaths and consider the following. I have generally perceived Joanne Beck’s articles on the city services and the decisions being made around them as pretty much parroting the council’s position. In short, she seemed like a shill for the council. The recent article regarding administrator salaries however, I thought was a breath of fresh air. I felt she asked legitimate questions about how those individuals are compensated and how that compensation was determined. With a population of slightly over 16000 people, do we as a city need to spend nearly $170,000 for two administrator positions? Is that the “going rate”? Given his experience at the time of his hiring, I felt that Mr. Molino could (should) have been hired at a much lower rate. He was already under contract to the city. If he wanted the job, his subsequent performance could have been used to negotiate a higher rate of compensation. That however is water under the bridge at this point and it would appear that his performance has borne out council’s faith. With regard to Ms. Kuzon’s compensation, Charlie, here’s some unsolicited advice. From all I can gather, she’s one hard working woman. She appears to be doing a fantastic job and is filling more than one position. Why not let the taxpayers know that? Spell it out. Tell people that she’s the Asst. administrator, she’s managing public works, she’s writing grants, whatever. For all I know she shovels the walk in front of City Centre. You of all people should know how sensitive the city taxpayers are to waste in city government. Just lay it out. The administrators are public servants and the details of their salary compensation are (or should be) a matter of public record. Your outrage at being questioned on this topic and the remarks about sexism are curious to say the least. On this issue, it almost seems as though council is trying to hide something. Personally, I think $170,000 for two positions is a lot of money. If (as appears to be the case) Ms. Kuzon is actually filling more than the Asst. Mgr position then perhaps her compensation is justified…but let the people know so that they can either get behind council or hold you accountable. One thing is for sure. With the hiring of Mr. Molino and now Ms. Kuzon at the rates they are paid, council has rung the salary bell. The precedent for city administrator compensation in the city of Batavia has been set and the taxpayers are saddled with it forever. It’ll be tough to un-ring that bell. Lastly, thanks to the entire council for their service to our city. I don’t always agree with all of you, but I do appreciate your service.
Charlie Mallow
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David thanks for your thoughts, I really do appreciate hearing good sensible questions from people. It seems like I need to clear something up about the rates of pay for administrators. My problem isn’t around having a discussion about the subject at all. In fact, we had a discussion about this topic and I scheduled another discussion before the budget is enacted. It’s the politically charged method that is being used that I take issue with. There is no reason for a council person to run to the paper before an issue is discussed other than to make political hay. We recently received some information about salaries that some council people were not aware of, instead of going to the city manager with questions or waiting for the group to discuss the manor in a professional way, the council people in question ran off to the paper. When you’re in public office that is a line you do not cross unless your goal is purely political. Charlie
Richard Gahagan
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Come on man your on here every freakin day makin your "political hay". Toot toot.
Charlie Mallow
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How's the weather in Texas?
Charlie Mallow
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For someone so far away from the place you HATE, you sure do have a lot of time on your hands to talk to us stupid people who still live in NY.
Gabor Deutsch
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I guess they stopped paying attention to someone on the hunting site so its time to get some attention here. So much for someone against bait and shoot. Er, I mean longbow.
Howard B. Owens
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Richard, your bashing Batavia is getting a little old. Isn't there a web site in Texas where you can express your misery? It's not like you ever have anything constructive to say here.
Richard Gahagan
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Didn't really bash anything or express any misery. I come on here to keep up with home town news but lately the site has been dominated by local politician's shameless self promotion, or childish bickering between politicians - now thats what is getting old. As for the weather its 70ish clear blue sky and sunny like it is most every day this time of year. Bass just started movin up on their spawining beds.
Charlie Mallow
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People have questions and I have an obligation to tell people what is going on in town. You don't live here and shouldn't care about local NY politics. Why don't you just follow the things your interested in? I have no interest in hunting but, I don't go out of my way to write about those issues or insult people who do. The feedback I get from local people shows me that they really expect me to respond to them on this site. So how about we respect each other and stop the back and forth?
Patrick D. Burk
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Why don't you read about the tremendous job our City School District is doing and comment on some positive things.... You know... Those of us that live here do see a ton of stuff that is going right. If Texas is where you want to be then comment on Texas. Stop the garbage about the city where I live. You made your comment a long time ago when you moved away.
Gabor Deutsch
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There is plenty of non-political hometown news on this website, so why not post comments there too ? How about you move back and solve all of Batavia's problems ?
Beth Kinsley
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Mr. Gahagan - You say you didn't bash anything or express any misery? I just looked back through your posts and that's all you've done. How about this one: "Your economy sucks, your weather sucks, there's no jobs, the jobs that are there don't pay anything, taxes are higher than anywhere else in the country and the buildings and infrastructure are in ruins. Take a close look around the place is falling down around your ears. What keeps you there get the hell outta that armpit of the country and stop begging the government for handouts...." You have nothing constructive to say at all. We're on this website because we care about this community and I don't think anyone cares more than Charlie Mallow does. He gives countless hours of his time for this community and while I don't always agree with him (I usually do), I will always respect him for what he's done for all of us. Batavia was in a horrible financial state just a few years ago and, with his leadership, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Of course there are going to be more hard times due to the economic situation but those are problems that every community is facing. I wish this was like Big Brother so we could vote you off.
Gabor Deutsch
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I wish it was like that show "the weakest link". (teehee)
Richard Gahagan
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Your economy sucks, your weather sucks, there's no jobs, the jobs that are there don't pay anything, taxes are higher than anywhere else in the country and the buildings and infrastructure are in ruins. Take a close look around the place is falling down around your ears. What part of that statement isn't true? Not bashing just a statement of fact after a recent visit.
Gabor Deutsch
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I believe someone needs a nap !
Patrick D. Burk
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Like my father used to tell me....don't get into a pissing match with a skunk...say your peace and walk on. I am proud to live in Batavia where I have great neighbors, great schools and a great job. It was my city of choice when I was raising my children and it is my city of choice now. It may not be heaven BUT it is home....and by the way..look around....because of years of past practice and economic lunkheads...jobs,taxes and the economy aren't that great anywhere.
Daniel Jones
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You crack me up Ricky.
Charlie Mallow
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You win Mr. Gahagan, we live in absolute destitution. It’s the worst possible place on earth and we are the stupidest of all god’s creatures. Why then do you care to know what we are doing? Maybe just maybe, you miss home and had to move for a job or because your family left for a job and you wanted to be near them. Or maybe you retired and just wanted to get out of the cold. We ALL can understand that and no one here is looking to judge your move but, you need to shake off this nastiness. No one here is looking to pick on you.
Russ Stresing
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Beth Kinsley
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He doesn't have any friends yet. Not even Howard. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe if someone sends him a friend request his heart will grow and he won't be so sour.
Richard Gahagan
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Too funny the accounts resulted from not remembering my pass words. What's even funnier is you people don't even realize I'm just jackin around.
Charlie Mallow
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Mr. Gahagan needs a group hug!
Richard Gahagan
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Just so ya know I love WNY never thought I'd leave, still friends with a bunch of morons I went to JK with, we're like brothers. Come home for deer in the fall and trout in the spring. But still it is pretty cool not shoveling snow in over six years or almost gettin killed on your commute every single day of the winter ya gotta admit that ya bunch of yankers.
Howard B. Owens
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Russ, the Richard in this thread had two accounts. He's only ever logged into one of them. Thanks for the reminder, though, I blocked the second account. As for the third Richard Gahagan, that's Richard's father, who lives in Florida, not Texas. (or I may have it backwards, and Richard in Texas is the father and Florida is the son ... I've met people in Batavia who know them and have commented on the comments left).
John Roach
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Russ, His "nitwit" tells all we need to know about him.
Beth Kinsley
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I'm sure his father is very proud of how he is carrying on his name.
Richard Gahagan
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All Y'all need to take a trip.
Russ Stresing
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Dick, Y'all are already trippin'.

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