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February 10, 2015 - 2:33pm

City Council mum on assistant city manager position during budget amendment meeting

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, budget.

Notable during last night's City Council meeting were the words not spoken.

For all the talk in the community the past few weeks about eliminating the Batavia's assistant city manager position, not a single council member raised the issue when given the chance.

The council passed five budget amendments, all recommended by City Manager Jason Molino, eliminating $53,000 from the spending plan. But after those five motions passed and Council President Brooks Hawley asked if members of the council had any other amendments to offer, the panel was silent until Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian piped up.

"What's the use to raise an amendment if you won't compromise over here?" Christian asked.

After the meeting, Christian expressed frustration that she believes residents want more spending cuts but she doesn't feel anybody is listening to her pleas.

"It really bothers me," Christian said. "There are a lot of people out there who are having a difficult time living."

While there has also been a move afoot to eliminate spending for Vibrant Batavia, since that expenditure is not part of the budget, it will be addressed as a separate resolution at a future council meeting.

The assistant city manager position, however, is part of the budget.

Christian said she would certainly support eliminating the position, but she said she didn't make a motion because she believes only three other council members would vote with her, giving such a motion no chance of passing. 

"I didn't bring it up, you're right," Christian said. "What's the use?"

Councilman Eugene Jankowski said after the meeting he didn't bring it up because he's not ready to eliminate the job.

"I made the motion last year not to put it in the budget and it was voted down," Jankowski said. "This year I've seen some of the good work that she's done and I personally feel it's premature to just fire her after only a few months. I'm still keeping an eye on it to see how it's going to pan out."

Jankowski said he doesn't sense a strong sentiment from fellow council members for eliminating the assistant city manager position.

As for Vibrant Batavia, Jankowski said he intends to bring a motion reduce the proposed $45,000 allocation, but not cut it out completely.

He wants a compromise position, he said, because some constituents feel passionately that no more money should be spent on Vibrant Batavia and others are just as passionate in their support of Vibrant Batavia.

He wants to see Vibrant Batavia stand on its own and would like to find a mechanism to make that possible.

He said he doesn't know what the timetable would be to wean Vibrant Batavia off of city support.

"If it's impossible in 12 months, then I want to see what the plan is," Jankowski said. "If it's a reasonable plan and it looks viable and everybody in the community knows what it is and knows when that time is going to end, then it's up to them to decide whether they accept it or not."

He also said that partial funding wouldn't close the door to the council providing more assistance if Vibrant Batavia found it needed more time to stand on its own after making a verifiable and honest effort to be self-sufficient.

John Roach
John Roach's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Rose Mary is right. Only three, her, John Deleo and Kathy Briggs, would vote to eliminate the job. Since it will not get the support of at least the 5 needed, the issue is dead until next year with maybe new members. As a result, we will have a tax increase, no matter how small instead of about a 2% tax cut.

david spaulding
david spaulding's picture
Last seen: 3 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 12 2011 - 5:46pm

As it stands now No motion was made so No vote was taken. I say make the motion, take a vote and we all get to see how they vote. I want facts not assumptions.
" I didn't do this because of that" , " I would have done this but because of that"
are very lame excuses to me. Do what you have to do to get facts on the record so We the people know who to vote for next election.

Mark Potwora
Mark Potwora's picture
Last seen: 1 week 6 days ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm

Bring the motion up and put all on record on keeping the asst.manager..this is election year and people want on the record how there elected official voted..Also who voted to spend 1900 dollars for flowers.How was that snuck in..that vote should be on record....

John Roach
John Roach's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Mark, the vote on the flowers was on the budget workshop agenda. The vote was taken and it was 5-4.

Canale, Hawley, Pacino, Doeringer and Cipollone voted for the spending on the flowers again.

Rich Richmond
Rich Richmond's picture
Last seen: 4 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 29 2011 - 4:50pm

The Council passed budget amendments MANDATED by City Manager Jason Molino. A MANDATE is an authoritative command or instruction.

Yes, Canale, Hawley, Pacino, Doeringer and Cipollone voted for the spending on the flowers. This is a block of five who effectively will block any meaningful savings in the budget.

As I have said before; there is difference between “a want” and “a need” and Molino “wants” his Assistant City Manager. The item for her salary and benefit package is in his MANDATED budget.

We know for a fact by examining their past voting record; they are a block of five who will pass Molino’s MANDATED budget.

There will an election in November and hopefully some of the City Managers blocks will be toppled.

Ed Hartgrove
Ed Hartgrove's picture
Last seen: 8 months 5 days ago
Joined: Dec 20 2012 - 11:54am

"I didn't bring it up, you're right," Christian said. "What's the use?"

Sounds like a perfect paraphrase of a rule from the pamphlet "Rules of Retort" by Slick Willie, which reads: Rule 3: When in doubt, just shout out, "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"

It allows the speaker of such (similar) phrases to walk away, muttering, "I did EVERYTHING I could possibly do. What more could my constituents expect from me?"

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