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August 13, 2018 - 7:00pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in batavia, news, Martin Moore, city manager, notify.

martinmooreeunice2018.jpgUpdated at 8:55 p.m.

City Council voted by an 8-1 margin to hire Martin Moore, Ph.D., as the City's new manager, replacing Jason Molino who left for an administrative position in Tompkins County in January. A story about the voting at a special business meeting at City Centre Council Chambers will follow.

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The Batavia City Council is expected to approve the hiring tonight of Martin Moore, Ph.D., city manager of Eunice, N.M., since 2011, as the city's new top executive.

Moore has accepted a three-year contract, which must be approved by the council tonight, to fill the vacant city manager position in Batavia.

Moore will begin his duties in Batavia on Oct. 15.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said Moore could not attend tonight’s meeting due to a family wedding but will be available via video conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

Jankowski had nothing but words of praise for Moore, who was voted “City Manager of the Year” in 2015 by the New Mexico Municipal League for his “handling of the city’s finances and progress of the community and how it operates.”

“He is articulate and personable,” Jankowski said, “and all of us have been very impressed by him.”

Moore also won praise from Councilman Art McGinnis.

"He was mature, gave great answers and has incredible experience," McGinnis said. "We really won out on this one. Big time. I'm very happy."

Jankowski said Moore’s wife has family in North Tonawanda and that they have been looking at relocating to Western New York.

Eunice is a city of about 3,000 people, located just west of the Texas border in the southeast corner of New Mexico.

It operates under the guidance of a nine-member City Council, including Mayor Billy Hobbs. According to the city’s website, it is in a “period of sudden growth,” with the oil field (its main employer) in a boom period, due to the price of oil.

“All companies are in need of employees with unemployment for Lea County running at 0 percent.

"Also, the National Enrichment Facility has received their license and will be building a $1.7 billion project five miles out of town.

"They will employ approximately 250 permanent employees and have up to 1,000 construction workers on site in two years. The total project will take seven to 10 years to build.”

Additionally, the website reports that its schools are “top-notch with prekindergarten through 12th grade. The community is very involved with all levels of sports and has many state championships in all.” The Eunice High School baseball has produced 17 state championships, which is fifth-most in the nation.

Moore’s contract, as reported first on The Batavian, calls for a starting salary of $110,000, with increases of $2,000 annually. He also will receive retirement benefits, paid family medical insurance, three weeks’ vacation, life insurance, and relocation reimbursement up to $10,000.

His previous executive management experience includes a four-year stint as a consultant, census 2010 crew leader and general manager in Timberon, N.M.; county manager for Otero County, N.M.; executive director of Eastern Arizona Counties, and director of development and community services for Apache County, Ariz.

An Eagle Scout, he was a member of several professional associatons and president of the Rotary Club of Eunice, N.M.

Moore replaces former manager Jason Molino, who left in January for a similar position for Tompkins County. Public Works Director Matt Worth has been handling the city manager responsibilities on an interim basis since Molino’s departure.

October 14, 2008 - 4:29pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in city council, city manager, youth football.

Yesterday, we reported an initiative on the part of the Batavia City School District to pursue a jointly funded "needs assessment" that would look at whether or not the school, the city and the town should consider upgrading and expanding its recreational lands and playing fields. That study would cost $11,000. The school district would pay $5,500, and the town and the city would pay $2,750 each.

School Superintendent Margaret Puzio sent a letter to City Manager Jason Molino in the beginning of September asking him to bring the matter before Council. That matter will go before Council at its meeting tonight. A similar letter was sent to the town, which agreed to pitch in the funds for the study almost immediately.

"We heard from the town right away," said Puzio. "They are on board. They're interested. Just waiting on the city."

Where did this all come from? It turns out that the genesis of the idea came in August when Molino sat down with Puzio and a pair of representatives of Batavia's youth football program to discuss short-term and long-term options to find a home for the program that had then been asked to leave Dwyer Stadium.

Says Puzio:

"The opening conversations happened around the whole youth football issue and trying to find a home for them. The district coincidentally owns some property which we were considering whether to develop as playing fields and a recreation area. But we didn't want to do that without knowing everything that was already available. We wanted to get together with city and town and fund a needs assessment and have somebody take inventory of all the recreation areas in the city and town and see if what we currently have is adequate. Do we need more, or do we already have enough?"

Puzio also mentioned in the letter that she was hoping the city could act quickly in its decision—again, this was over a month ago—as a grant opportunity that could help fund such a recreation expansion will expire in December. She could not tell me just how much money was available, but she could say that the Local Government Efficiency Grant was "money that the state has set aside to support municipalities that work together not to duplicate services." In other words, these are funds used to support municipalities that work together to establish shared services.

There would be no more related costs for the "needs assessment," said Puzio, but if the study found that there was a need to, say, construct a new atheltic field at the school district's North Street property, more funds could be forthcoming from all parties involved.

Thanks to Margaret Puzio for getting back to us so quickly and answering all of our questions.

October 13, 2008 - 3:34pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in city council, city manager.

On September 4, Batavia City School Superintendent Margaret Puzio wrote a letter to City Manager Jason Molino. It begins:

Some weeks ago, you and I were part of a larger discussion regarding expanding usable playing fields and recreation areas for Batavia residents. At that time we talked about a long term plan that might include the development of our North Street property into an official recreation area. This would be a great benefit to the school district, the city, and the town. An added advantage would be to secure funds for this development through grant funding.

Included with the letter is a proposal for a "needs assessment"—a study to see if there is a real need for a recreation expansion—that would total $11,000. The school district offers to put up $5,500 to be matched by the city and town, which would pitch in $2,750 each. It seems implied that the recreation areas would be for use by everyone, not merely school students.

This letter is included in the City Council agenda for the meeting Tuesday. There is no indication that Council has already addressed this topic, and, in fact, earlier today, City Council President Charlie Mallow said he had asked Molino to add the item to the agenda so that Council can discuss it. They have not yet had that opportunity, he said.

In the letter, Puzio writes that "we will need to act quickly" in order to qualify for the grant funding that is available. "Please let me know," she writes, "the earliest date that you would be able to consult City Council to determine their willingness to proceed with a collaborative effort for our recreation needs."

Unfortunately, the schools and city offices are closed today. We left messages with Puzio, Molino and Town Supervisor Greg Post to find out more about that meeting in August and whether or not the city and town will consider pitching in. We would also like to find out more specifics about the expansion, should the city and town get on board.

The complete letter and proposal can be downloaded as part of the meeting agenda here.

August 25, 2008 - 3:51pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in city manager, mall.

City Manager Jason Molino had a few words for the mall merchants in an article by Joanne Beck that appeared on the cover of the Daily News Saturday. Beck starts the article with a lengthy quote from Mitchell Chess, president of the Mall Merchants Association.

What Chess has to say can be boiled down to a single sentiment: "The situation needs to be resolved. Since we can't have those type of negotiations to resolve this amicably, we have to take the city to court." Chess has said this before: in news articles, in a letter to the editor, and here on The Batavian. In other words, this isn't really news.

What it is, instead, is a springboard, fashioned by Beck to allow Jason Molino a high dive into the foray—and that he does, with no lack of bravado.

But first a little background supplied by Beck: Following a somewhat productive meeting of the city and mall merchants in April, the relationship between the two sides quickly soured, and Molino blames it on the merchants, who in turn, blame the city.

Molino says the city was supposed to have six months to "gather information" related—I presume, as this "information" is never qualified outright—to a request by the merchants for repairs to the mall and replacement of the sign.

Not only has the merchants group not allowed the time necessary to do that, but it has fueled the matter by making negotiations public, he said.

...

It all became a "soap opera" that has done nothing to rectify the situation, he said. He stressed the importance for merchants to perhaps not to be so vocal.

"If you [the mall merchants?] continue with the unprofessionalism and badgering ... it's not going to move forward," [said Molino]. "We had identified the issues to be discussed, and we had a timeframe. This is very simple. If we want to resolve this issue, we can. If not, that's up to you. I will not engage in this public hysteria."

Fine bit of euphemism there: "the importance for merchants to perhaps not be so vocal." I like that. That's nice. A lot better than the more direct route: "Keep yer mouths shut!"

The saga continues tonight at 7:00pm at City Hall, when the Council will vote on whether to replace the mall sign, among other matters. I'll be there. Will you?

July 16, 2008 - 8:34am
posted by Philip Anselmo in city, city manager.

Batavia's Assistant City Manager Sally Kuzon is suing her former employer, the village of Williamsville, for breach of contract, according to the Buffalo News. Kuzon was the village administrator there from 2000 to 2007, when she left after she and the village board of trustees failed to agree to a contract. Kuzon was making $72,350.

She now says she is "entitled to $36,175 in severence pay above and beyond the $72,875 the Board of Trustees voted to give her back in September."

As village administrator, Kuzon worked under a generous contract, which included a take-home car for job-related and “limited personal” use, covered travel expenses for professional conferences and seminars, and payment of membership dues to various professional and local civic organizations.

And, key to the legal action now facing the village, it also entitled Kuzon to a lump sum equal to six-months pay if she was terminated without cause or not re-appointed.

Kuzon’s contract was renegotiated in 2003 under former Mayor Ray Hazlett to include even more favorable terms. It allowed her to be considered for merit pay in addition to her annual 3 percent raises.

It also stated that Kuzon could accumulate unused leave “without limit,” and be compensated for it up to the equivalent of a full-year’s salary if she was terminated.

Kuzon could not be reached for comment this morning. The Batavian left a voicemail message requesting that she please call us back.

[Village Trustee Jeffrey] Kingsley, a lawyer, has been particularly outspoken in questioning whether Kuzon is entitled to what she’s already received, whether she was terminated or had resigned, and whether the contract clause regarding benefit payouts applied to her decades of service with the village or just her accumulated time since her contract was redrafted in 2003. “I still believe, in my opinion, she was overpaid in excess of $30,000 back in September,” he said.

Also, Kingsley said, it is “mind boggling” that the village never sought a release from Kuzon regarding any future claims before depositing more than $72,000 into her bank account in September.

Kuzon filed a notice of claim with the village June 30. She has not returned calls seeking comment. The Damon and Morey law firm is representing Kuzon.

June 17, 2008 - 9:52am
posted by Charlie Mallow in Mallow, city manager, Council, Molino.
I wanted to release the fact that our City Manager's review process has been completed. The budgeted 2.75% increase in his salary will be on the next business agenda for Council to vote to release. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of this employee matter in public, due to employee confidentiality concerns.

I would like to express my thanks for the work our city manager has accomplished over the last year. We began this fiscal year with a projected tax increase over 34% and finished with an 8% increase. This year the City manager’s office helped secure well over $750,000 in grants, substantial reductions in city operating expenses, consolidated dispatch, negotiated several labor contracts beneficial to this city and reworked 7 municipal agreements for ambulance service. Increases in productivity and streamlining of city operations have effected all departments. City staff continues to excel under Jason’s leadership, all the while making due with less and still providing quality service for our residents.
We are looking forward to successful outcomes for the many challenges that we have placed before our City Manager for this year.
These include:
·         A smooth transition to consolidated dispatch with the county.
·         Determining how we can centralize booking with the county.
·         Seeing tangible results with the consolidation study with the town.
·         Continued improvements in the once faltering inspections department with an eye towards increasing productivity, streamlining and improving city codes.
·         Strong leadership in the reconstruction efforts taking place on Ellicott and Walnut Streets this year.
·         Oversight of the Ambulance service to ensure its viability.

 

June 11, 2008 - 11:45am

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

  • Ramble Music & Arts Fest is less than a month off — July 5 in Jackson Square — and festival organizers are looking for more ways to boost the arts side of the daylong event. In addition to the music, the festival includes poetry, sidewalk chalk art and a history session. Check out Ramble's MySpace or the festival's Web site for more info.
  • City Council President told reporter Joanne Beck that the Council is conducting City Manager Jason Molino's annual review. Mallow felt that the city manager is "doing a good job," though everyone on Council will be able to give his or her input. Mallow would not say whether the executive session held after the Council meeting Monday was a part of that process. Molino did not attend the session.
  • A pair of articles by reporter Tom Rivers look into the disparate industries of manure and maple. Both make for interesting reads.
  • A full-page article on A-8 previews the Paolo Busti Cultual Foundation of Genesee County's 24th Annual Scholarship Award Night, which starts at 6:00pm June 25 at Terry Hills Restaurant. A brief bio is included for each of the 12 high school seniors competing for scholarships. Check out the article for ticket information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

June 4, 2008 - 3:26pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in police chief, city manager.

Dan Fischer of WBTA reported today at noon that City Manager Jason Molino "expects" to have a police chief chosen by the end of the week. Molino declined to name either of the candidates — the search is narrowed to two — though he did say that one hailed from Genesee County, the other from somewhere else in the state, but nothing more specific. He apparently did not, for example, say in which part of the state the out-of-county candidate resides.

Lt. Eugene Jankowski has been acting as chief since the retirement in March of former chief Daryl Sehm. Jankowski was not included in the shortlist of candidates.

In an article about the city's vacancies, Buffalo News reporter Bill Brown wrote yesterday:

Complicating the issue is the idea of combining three departments — police, fire and public works — under one director.

A nine-member commission to review the city’s 50-year-old charter form of government began meeting in April. It could recommend restoring the mayor-council system replaced in 1956 with an administrator-council. It is also expected to review municipal operations and conceivably could suggest an overall director of the three departments.

UPDATE: City Council President Charlie Mallow said that the Buffalo News article is not quite accurate. The city would not consolidate all three departments. Rather, the two chief positions could be merged into a single "public safety officer" position, while the public works director would be merged with the assistant city manager post, which has already happened, for the most part. (See comment below)

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