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Just in case, ARC and BDC looking at job options for those who might be out of work when trash contract ends

By Howard B. Owens
Feb 11, 2013, 4:46pm

Even as supporters of Genesee ARC hope to garner enough public support to sway the Batavia City Council away from trashing a 30-year relationship for garbage collection in the city, the agency is looking at its options should it lose the garbage contact.

ARC Executive Director Donna Saskowski said she's formed an internal task force to look at all of the options for the agency.

The core mission of ARC, Saskowski said, is to provide services and employment to people with disabilities. That will not change, regardless of the outcome of the proposed changes to the local solid waste law.

"My job is to take care of the people we serve," Saskowski said. "We're researching as many options as possible."

Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp. (BDC), has also stepped in to help line up resources for placing any agency employees who might otherwise be eligible for unemployment.

Of the 30 people who work in the garbage and recycling collection program, some are more properly classified as clients of ARC, Saskowski explained, and even though they are paid for their work, they are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Those people, Saskowski said, will continue to be assigned work by ARC one way or the other.

Another group are actually employees of the agency and must work in community-based employment.

If jobs are not found for them, they would be eligible for unemployment benefits.

There are approximately -- the number fluctuates -- 15 such people.

Some of the agency's employees who could be affected by a loss of the contract have no disabilities.

Pacatte is pulling together resources, including the county's Job Development Bureau to help them find work.

There are private employers who have already expressed an interest and both Pacatte and Saskowski hope more come forward.

Nationally, 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed.

"We're looking for any company that could use a well-trained, dedicated workforce," Saskowski said. "We work with each individual and try to find the best situation for (him or her)."

Pacatte said there are a few tax-credit programs employers can benefit from if they hire a person with a disability.

Working to help ARC is what the BDC should do, Pacatte said, "with any company that is anticipating any kind of major shift in their workforce."

If the council votes against the proposed ordinance change, Saskowski said she doesn't really know what will happen with garbage collection in Batavia come March 31 when the current contract expires. She referred that question to City Manager Jason Molino.

"I couldn't even address it at this point," Saskowski said.

Late this afternoon, Molino wasn't immediately available for comment.

Along with finding jobs for anyone displaced by a change in garbage collection, ARC is looking for other companies to do contract work for and other entrepreneurial options.

"We're looking at just about anything and everything," Saskowski said.

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