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March 11, 2021 - 9:15am

Schumer releases American Rescue Plan allocations to localities; manager job search saves money for city

Batavia City Manager Rachael Tabelski was spot on Monday night when she predicted the “lower figure” would be allocated to the city through the $1.9 trillion federal relief act known as the American Rescue Plan.

Tabelski reported at this week’s City Council meeting that she received estimates “ranging between $1.57 million and $2.5 million, so I’ll go with the lowest figure -- 1.5 to come into the City of Batavia, specifically.”

Tentative dollar amounts released Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer’s office and the National Association of Counties indicate that the city will get $1.58 million as a result of the legislation.

Tabelski categorized the funding as a “windfall” in that the money must be used for certain projects such as infrastructure and not to “stabilize our operations.” Municipal leaders are waiting for more details on how the money can be spent.

Genesee County is targeted to receive $11.11 million, in range of what County Manager Matt Landers had forecasted. 

The county’s 14 towns are expected to receive $4.66 million, divvied up as follows:

  • Town of Alabama, $190,000;
  • Town of Alexander, $270,000;
  • Town of Batavia, $750,000;
  • Town of Bergen, $320,000;
  • Town of Bethany, $190,000;
  • Town of Byron, $250,000;
  • Town of Darien, $330,000;
  • Town of Elba, $250,000;
  • Town of Le Roy, $810,000;
  • Town of Oakfield, $330,000;
  • Town of Pavilion, $260,000;
  • Town of Pembroke, $450,000;
  • Town of Stafford, $260,000.

Allocations to Orleans and Wyoming counties are expected to be $7.83 million and $7.73 million, respectively.

In other City of Batavia government news:

  • Tabelski and City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said they are waiting to receive some outstanding invoices before determining the total amount that was spent to conduct the nationwide search for a permanent city manager.

Jankowski previously told The Batavian that he figured it would be around $5,000. The city contracted with The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, to assist in the search following the departure of Martin Moore last June. (The Batavian has requested an itemized list of all expenses).

Some residents have criticized the city for conducting another search (Novak was involved in the search that resulted in Moore’s hiring in 2018) when it could have hired Tabelski, who had been serving in an interim role for the past eight months.

Council opted to conduct a full search, however, as a stipulation in the contract with Novak indicated it would be provided at no cost, other than travel, advertising and related expenses.

As it turned out, even if the expenses involved to reach a decision to appoint Tabelski as the permanent city manager increase to $6,000, for example, the city will have saved significantly in salary over that time.

If Tabelski was hired in July, her salary would have jumped from (approximately) $7,398 per month to $9,166 per month – a difference of $1,768 per month. Multiply that times eight months and you get $14,144. The city did give Tabelski a stipend of $1,000 per month for the additional duties, so the savings decrease to $6,144.

But what also must be considered is that if Tabelski was hired in July, she would have brought on an assistant manager in short order. Even at a salary of $75,000, for example, that would have cost the city another $45,000 to 50,000 or so in personnel expenses.

Jankowski said initially he was in favor of “speeding up the hiring process” as he supported Tabelski for the job, but he thinks the decision to conduct the search was the right one.

“Looking back on that, I’m glad I acted on the feedback I received and supported moving on with a full and complete search,” he said. “It was fair and thorough. The search committee did a great job and I’m proud to have been a part of the process.”

  • Tabelski, responding to an email from The Batavian, confirmed that Ray Tourt had opted not to accept the permanent position of Department of Public Works director.

“After additional consideration, Ray Tourt has decided not to take the permanent/provisional appointment of Director of Public Works,” Tabelski said. “Ray, a 20-plus-year veteran of the city, is committed to the City of Batavia and will remain the interim director while the city conducts a full search, and hiring process for a new director.”

Once a new director is hired, Tourt will go back to his former position of superintendent of the Bureau of Maintenance, and the city’s Human Resources department will begin to advertise for the position of DPW director in the near future, Tabelski added.

Tourt was appointed DPW director in December after Matt Worth’s announcement that he would be retiring.

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