Skip to main content

Jason Molino

Former City Manager Molino accepts executive director post with Livingston County Water and Sewer Authority

By Mike Pettinella

Jason Molino is returning to the GLOW region.

Molino, the City of Batavia manager for 11 years prior to leaving in January 2018 to become administrator for Tompkins County, has accepted the executive director post with the Livingston County Water and Sewer Authority based in Lakeville.

“For me, it was several things,” Molino said by telephone this afternoon. “It was the right move for my family -- wanting to spend more time with my family. I love the work I’ve done here, I love the community and the people I work with are phenomenal, but this really is a personal decision.”

Molino said he was looking forward to “a little more balance” in his life as he moves closer to extended family members who live in Western New York.

“This is an opportunity to continue to do good public work, which is important, as well as find a good balance in life that I want with my family,” he said.

Molino is married to the former Anna Lesh of Batavia. They have three daughters -- Sophia, 21; Stella, 10; and Charley, 8, and a son, Jason Jr., 6.

He begins his new role on June 14. He replaces Michelle Baines, who reportedly left for another job.

The 41-year-old Molino has experience in the water and sewer segment of municipal government, having been involved in a leadership capacity when the City of Batavia negotiated its latest water and sales tax agreements with Genesee County.

He said he is aware of Genesee’s current water project and said that Livingston County has similar opportunities to expand water supply to other parts of the county.

“We are looking to partner with other towns and villages on distribution (water) system management or collection (sewer) system management, and possible expansion of consumer capacity as well – all stuff that I feel comfortable with and was able to work on when in Batavia, whether it was water-related or sewer-related,” he said.

Molino is highly regarded in Tompkins County, with major accomplishments being the establishment of county’s Office of Veterans Services and hiring of its first director, establishment of the county’s first chief equity and diversity officer, and the review and recommendation to merge the Mental Health and Public Health departments.

He also led the county’s Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative in partnership with the City of Ithaca. In March of 2020 Molino declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has led Tompkins County through the crisis, instituting innovative measures to counteract sales tax shortfalls.

In a press release, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, thanked Molino for his service, sharing that “Jason has served this county with integrity every single day in this role. He has brought a thoughtful presence as our administrator, showing deep support for our staff and fiduciary tact putting together budgets under ever-more-complicated circumstances.”

Mark McKeown, board chair of the Livingston County Water and Sewer Authority, said in a press release that Molino was hired following a thorough search and extensive interview process.

“Jason’s experience, background and leadership will serve LCWSA and its future very well,” McKeown said. “We are looking forward to having Jason join our LCWSA team and bringing his experience and perspective to our group.”

Photos: Goodbye Jason Molino

By Howard B. Owens


Dozens of people turned up at T.F. Brown's last night for a goodbye and thank you party for Jason Molino, who is working his last day as Batavia's City Manager today.

Above, Molino with County Manager Jay Gsell and Max Pies co-owner Steve Pies.


Molino with council presidents. From left, current council president Eugene Jankowski, and former council presidents Marianne Clattenburg and Bruce Tehan, who was council president in the 1980s, before Molino came to town, but wanted his picture with Molino and the other council presidents in attendance.

Council goes along with Molino's 'succession plan' recommendations; grants easement for JC Penney

By Mike Pettinella


Update: Tuesday, Jan. 9

Concerning negotiations between the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association, Dr. Marlin Salmon this morning said that he is concerned over the parking situation in proximity to his dental practice located at the City Centre Mall, calling it a "significant issue" that has prevented him from signing the proposed agreement.

"I have talked with Jason (Molino) in the past and expressed my concerns," said Salmon, who is seeking consideration for parking spaces near his business. "The initial agreement gives us a pedestrian easement, but really what does that do?"

Molino said that the City has offered to restripe a portion of the east lot to have two-hour parking instead of all-day parking for "quicker turnover," but added that "there are only so many parking spaces close to his storefront."

The matter is on the docket in Erie County Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday with Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto presiding.


No one questioned his suggestions and no one shot down his recommendations. Jason Molino's final meeting as Batavia city manager was a smooth one.

At tonight's special conference meeting at City Centre Council Chambers, Batavia City Council members unanimously signed off on Molino’s advice to appoint Department of Public Works Director Matthew Worth as the interim city manager and to contract with a recruiting firm to find Molino’s long-term replacement.

The meeting culminated a nearly 12-year association with the City for Molino, whose last day on the job is this Friday. He starts his new position as Tompkins County administrator on Jan. 29.

Council members -- after re-electing Eugene Jankowski as president and Paul Viele as president pro tempore for 2018 -- thanked Molino for his service through an official proclamation, which pointed to his budgeting and strategic planning expertise and his “leadership and creativity,” while also acknowledging his “integral” role in Batavia receiving a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from the state.

Molino accepted the proclamation from Jankowski, quipping that “I bet you would have never predicted 12 years ago that you’d be giving me this,” referring to a situation where Jankowski’s position on the police force was eliminated midway through Molino’s tenure.

“It has been a fun time … quite the roller-coaster ride, with a lot of ups and downs,” Molino said. “The staff has been remarkable to work with, and you’re in good hands as you look for your next leader.”

The reins, at least temporarily (it could take up to six months to hire a new manager), are being handed over to Worth, who along with Ray Tourt, maintenance superintendent; James Ficarella, water and wastewater superintendent; and Lisa Neary, deputy director of finance, will be taking on additional responsibilities.

Council approved these appointments, which will come with additional stipends of $1,000 per month for Worth, and $750 per month each for Tourt, Ficarella and Neary.

Worth said he's ready to do what's needed to keep the City running efficiently.

"It’s really just a matter of need," he said. "There’s a gap and they felt that I could help to move forward until they could get that permanent solution for the city manager. The City has been awful good to me over the years, and if I can help them get through this interim area, I was happy to do it."

Molino’s departure means that both key leadership positions in the City will be vacant as Batavia also has been without an assistant city manager for some time.

As reported previously on The Batavian, Molino suggested that due to several major infrastructure projects on the table, Council would be wise to postpone a water line replacement project and a sanitary sewer design project on several streets until 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“From a construction perspective, it would be best to postpone them to next year because you won’t have the manpower available,” Molino said.

Worth said there will be plenty of construction work in the months ahead.

"The priorities, of course, are first and foremost are to assist Council in getting the new city manager search started, and get that moving forward," he said. "After that, the big tickets items that are outstanding are the few capital projects that were discussed – the TIP project and TAP project, which are sidewalk and large resurfacing. Hopefully, (there will be) a resolution to the mall issues and the sales tax/water agreement with the county are the big items that need all of our attention."

When asked if he was onboard with putting off the water line replacements projects on Union Street, Brooklyn Avenue and South Main Street, Worth said a year delay won't make much of a difference.

"Well, I can say I dug more holes in Union Street that I care to think about over my career, so I very much am looking forward to replacing that water main, but then again, that water main’s close to 100 years old -- so one more year, it seems that it’s a reasonable step to take," he said. "We want to do it once, and do it right. Those projects are projects that will be in place for 100 years ... so let’s make sure we spend the time and do it right."

Molino said he was confident that Worth, Ficarella, Tourt and Neary would be able to navigate through the projects, which include an overhaul of the city’s entire software system, sidewalk construction, street resurfacing, facilities capital plan, City Centre concourse improvements and the Ellicott Trail bicycle and pedestrian pathway.

“The budget probably will be one of the easiest things to get through since the department heads are involved in this,” he said.

As far as the search for the new manager is concerned, Council agreed with Molino’s contention that hiring an executive search firm – which could cost up to $20,000 – would be the best way to “recruit the best talent with a fresh perspective and not placing a huge responsibility on the staff.”

He made a point of stating that candidates at this level “are interviewing you (City Council),” not the other way around.”

“The reality is that they are interviewing you to see what you have to offer,” he said.

After some discussion, Council formed a committee of Jankowski, Robert Bialkowski and Adam Tabelski, which will reach out to three or four recruiting firms and get proposals prior to its Jan. 22 meeting.

Jankowski said he liked the idea of “formulating a hybrid committee” of Council members, business people, citizens and department heads to conduct the initial screening, but Kathleen Briggs said she was in favor of department heads and council members.

“No business leaders at this point,” she said, adding that Council was responsible for the hire.

It was agreed that the committee of three would work with human resources specialist Dawn Fairbanks to contact search firms and report back as soon as possible.

“I’ll make sure everyone is informed every step of the way,” Jankowski said. “We want to act on this as quickly as possible.”

In other action, Council:

-- Voted in favor of two resolutions dealing with the JC Penney store at the City Centre Mall, continuing the practice of having unique agreements with the department store – the mall’s anchor tenant.

The resolutions granted an easement for JC Penney, formally known as 40 Batavia Centre LLC, for its use of the loading dock which actually sits on city property. Last week, Black Equities transferred ownership of the property to 40 Batavia Centre LLC.

This latest action is “one of the final pieces of the settlement documents in getting them passed by Penney’s and their new property owner.”

Molino said just one property owner – Dr. Marlin Salmon, DDS, Salmon Orthodontics  – has refused to sign the settlement agreement that calls for the city to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements, and take care of mall maintenance and operations.

Dr. Salmon’s business is located on the north side of the mall, next to Batavia Family Dental.

Molino said that Dr. Salmon’s case will be reviewed by a judge in court on Wednesday.

Molino said JC Penney owners have “given their affirmation of wanting to stay in this community, which is good for our dialogue with them. They confirmed they want to be here; having that good anchor tenant is always a good thing.”


In photo at top, Jason Molino receives a farewell hug from Council member Rose Mary Christian. "You're the best manager we've ever had," Christian said, adding that she promised to "be good to these guys (his interim replacements) for the next six months."

Photos by Howard Owens.

Molino offers city manager search advice, recommends DPW Director Worth as interim leader

By Mike Pettinella

Update: A gathering to thank Jason Molino on his service to the City of Batavia and to wish him well in his new endeavor is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 11 at T.F. Brown's in Batavia.

  • Contract with an executive search firm.
  • Offer a salary and benefits to attract top candidates.
  • Seek the opinions of existing staff members.
  • Don’t rush to hire someone just to fill the vacancy.

These are the primary suggestions from Batavia City Manager Jason Molino in a memo to City Council as the municipality’s governing body begins its search for a new chief executive.

The memo, dated Jan. 3, will be considered at Monday night’s City Council meeting (7 o’clock, City Centre Council Chambers).

Council also is expected to discuss another memo from Molino that recommends the appointment of Matthew Worth, Department of Public Works director, as the interim city manager, and the postponement of water and sewer projects on several city streets until 2019 and 2020.

Molino resigned his position last month, and will be starting his new job – as Tompkins County administrator – on Jan. 29. His last day in Batavia is Jan. 12.

In his city manager search memo, Molino places much stock in the benefit of an executive search firm.

“Executive search firms will most likely meet with City Council and staff to understand the culture of the organization and what type of leader you are looking for,” he wrote. “From there they would develop a recruitment profile that can be used to assist in advertising and recruiting for the position. Once the position is formally advertised, they will also have a network of existing managers and assistant managers that they know may be a good fit for Batavia.”

Molino indicated that he puts Batavia ahead of the City of Geneva, which also is seeking a new manager -- “This may be bias, but I think Batavia has much more to offer. Right now, Batavia has a great brand,” he wrote – but he also wrote that he believes Batavia’s pay scale is about $15,000 to $20,000 behind the “pay scale of comparable communities.”

He recommends that Council should form a search committee of “a few Council members, department heads and maybe a few community leaders” and to solicit feedback from the staff “that will be working closest to the city manager.”

All told, he wrote that he expects the search to cost around $20,000.

In closing, he advised Council to not hire someone just to fill the vacancy if “no candidate is appealing or appears to be a good fit … Do another search until you find the right leader for your organization.”

Increased Duties for Worth, Others

During the transition, Molino wrote that Worth has agreed to serve as interim city manager until a new leader is appointed, and also suggests additional roles for Ray Tourt, maintenance superintendent; James Ficarella, water and wastewater superintendent, and Lisa Near, deputy director of finance.

His suggestions come with $1,000 per month additional stipends for Worth, and $750 each for Tourt, Ficarella and Neary. All would be effective Jan. 13, contingent upon Council’s approval.

“Originally, the City had proposed a $2 million water line replacement for Union Street, Brooklyn Avenue and South Main Street, in addition to starting the design for a $1.5 million sanitary sewer replacement for Franklin Street, and a Maple & Mill Street sanitary sewer realignment,” Molino wrote. “While this capital work is important, it is recommended that it be pushed back to 2019 and 2020, respectively, when a new City leadership is on board.”

Molino noted that negotiations are continuing with Genesee County regarding water and sales tax agreements – calling it the “single most impactful and important issue facing the interim city manager and City Council over the next six months.”

Because Worth will be required to handle pressing issues, more responsibility will fall upon the other three department heads, particularly several capital projects representing $7 million of infrastructure investment, and the fiscal duties that accompany them.

Click here to read the entire memos on the Batavia City Council page (Organizational Meeting Agenda and Special Conference Agenda -- Jan. 8, 2018). Both meetings are open to the public.

Council learns of Molino's 'exit strategy' during executive session

By Mike Pettinella

Outgoing Manager Jason Molino’s “main goal” is to provide his successor with as much information as possible to help him or her navigate through the many projects that are on the table in the City of Batavia.

That’s the word from City Council President Eugene Jankowski, summarizing Wednesday night’s special meeting – a closed executive session – at the City Centre Council Board Room.

“Jason’s main goal is to outline everything in a detailed and concise manner to benefit the incoming manager and make it easy to understand what is going on,” Jankowski said.

While Jankowski said there is no obligation – financial or otherwise -- for either party to continue any relationship after Molino’s final day on the job (Jan. 12), he did say that Molino has “volunteered to answer questions after he leaves for a reasonable amount of time.”

Jankowski termed the meeting as an “exit interview” and a time for “constructive criticism both ways.”

The council president said most of the 45-minute meeting consisted of Molino giving suggestions about what skills and qualifications that Council needs to look for in its next manager, and how to improve employer/employee relations.

“He cleared the air as to why he was leaving, basically stating what he said before, that he was moving up the ladder and taking the next step in his professional development,” Jankowski said. “There also was a lot of heart-to-heart, which is a good thing.”

Jankowski said Molino outlined “his exit strategy” and briefed Council on the major projects.

“Jason also will be making suggestions on who he thinks should be the interim manager, and suggested that Council should make an interim appointment effective Jan. 13,” Jankowski said.

Although no specifics were discussed concerning an interim replacement, Jankowski said that he thinks “it would be reasonable to compensate someone for additional duties” should the interim tag be placed upon a current city employee.

Jankowski said there was no discussion on how to fill the position, adding that a public debate is less than two weeks away.

“You can expect a lively debate about how we will proceed at our next meeting on January 8th,” he said.

Molino resigned on Dec. 18 after 11 years in Batavia, and will start his new job as Tompkins County Administrator on Jan. 29. The new position comes with more responsibility and a substantial raise from his current salary of about $94,000.

City Council sets executive session for Wednesday to discuss manager position

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council, in an effort to get a "head start" on the task of finding a new city manager, has called an executive session for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Officially designated as a special business meeting, the session will not be open to the public, Council President Eugene Jankowski said this afternoon.

"This will be completely an executive session, since there has been no gathering of Council to discuss the next step (in light of Jason Molino's resignation on Dec. 18)," Jankowski said. "Our thought is to get a head start on everything that needs to be done to find a successor -- which procedures to follow, Jason's exit plan and the best direction to take."

The Tompkins County Legislature formally appointed Molino as the new Tompkins County Administrator on Dec. 19, effective Jan. 29.

Jankowski said Molino will be an "integral part" of Wednesday's informational meeting, which he said was proper since this deals with a "personnel matter."

"I just talked to Jason about an hour ago, and he said that his concern is that the city is left in proper hands when he leaves," said Jankowski, adding that he wasn't sure of Molino's last day on the job in Batavia.

(The Batavian has just learned that Molino's last day as city manager will be Jan. 12).

The council president said it was imperative that all council members "get on the same page to weigh all of our options."

Those options include whether or not to hire a job search consultant, whether or not to appoint an interim city manager, and whether or not to focus on the city manager appointment and put the vacant assistant city manager position on hold.

"Hopefully, as a result of the executive session, will be able to discuss the situation publicly at the January 8th meeting," Jankowski said. "As of right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions."

Tompkins County Legislature sets new administrator Molino's salary at $130K

By Mike Pettinella

Updated - Dec. 20 - 9 a.m.
From Tompkins County Legislature

Legislature Approves Appointment of Jason Molino as County Administrator

The Legislature, by unanimous vote, confirmed the appointment of Jason Molino, currently City Manager of the City of Batavia, NY, as Tompkins County Administrator, effective January 29, 2018. In a second unanimous vote, the Legislature approved an annual salary for the position of $130,000 for 2018, which falls above the position’s current salary range.

The action also indicates that the County Administrator will be eligible to receive the same fringe benefits and annual salary adjustments as those provided other management staff as negotiated and upon ratification of the County’s CSEA White Collar union.

A credentialed local government management professional by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) with diversified experience in public administration, Mr. Molino has served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Fiscal Officer of the City of Batavia since 2006 and for two years before that as Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Port Chester, New York.

Legislature Chair Michael Lane congratulated Mr. Molino on behalf of the Legislature, and said that, among the things that had impressed the Legislature was that, after applying, he had taken the time to attend some of the meetings of the Legislature and its committees. “This is a feather in his cap,” Lane said.

“Thank you for the warm welcome,” the new Administrator said. “It’s an honor to be selected.” Molino added that he has watched Tompkins County government from afar over the years, and that “it’s a pleasure to be part of this team.”

Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee Chair Jim Dennis, who chaired the search committee, remarked, “I’m pleased with the work of the committee and the people involved in it—another good process that the County has had to pick people for very important jobs.”

Other Administration changes:

Chair Lane announced that long-time Deputy County Administrator Paula Younger, who has served as Interim County Administrator since mid-November, has received an opportunity for another important role and will be leaving county government in early January. “I think it will be wonderful for our government and Tompkins County, as well,” he said, telling Younger, “We certainly appreciate what you have been doing for us every day.” County Attorney Jonathan Wood will assume Interim Administrator responsibilities from the time of Ms. Younger’s departure until Administrator Molino comes on board.


Tompkins County Legislature officially voted to hire 11-year Batavia City Manager Jason Molino as its new County Administrator tonight.

Molino confirmed the appointment as he returned from Ithaca with his family.

In a published report, Legislature Chair Mike Lane acknowledged Molino’s strong background in budgeting, labor relations, and management oversight, and was confident that county personnel "would work with him to keep them on a course for success."

Molino is expected to continue to serve as Batavia's manager until the end of January.

City Council, Molino open talks for possible multi-year employment contract

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council has begun talks with City Manager Jason Molino to renegotiate his contract.

Council President Eugene Jankowski confirmed following tonight’s meeting at City Centre that the subject of Molino’s pay and contract was part of an executive session held before the 7 o’clock meeting – and that talks will continue until both parties reach an agreement.

“Jason’s present contract is over 10 years old and has no expiration date so, during talking with Council, we decided that we wanted to propose another contract negotiation with Jason,” Jankowski said. “Jason drew up a contract and presented it to Council, and we’re now in the process of going through that contract and making a counterproposal.”

Last month, Council voted 5-4 against giving a 2.75 percent raise to Molino, who was hired in 2006 as assistant city manager and became the city manager shortly thereafter. His current salary is $93,782.

Jankowski said he expects the new contract to be a three-year or four-year pact – that’s still up in the air – a switch that would put an end to the yearly, somewhat contentious salary situation.

“As it looks like it’s presented and from what I’ve seen so far, that’s a strong possibility that the salaries will be more incremental over a period of years, instead of yearly budgeted,” Jankowski said.

“It will be similar to a police or a fire or a DPW contract – a period of time with set amounts already in there -- so we can forecast in our budget what to expect over the next so many years (and) so we’re not blindsided by any unnecessary costs each budget year. We’ll know ahead of time where we’re going and where it’s going for.”

The council president said a three-member committee of Council members Adam Tabelski, Rose Mary Christian and Robert Bialkowski met with Molino to get the ball rolling.

“They had the initial meeting with Jason and listened and brought it back to council,” he said. “And we listened. My goal is to get this done by the end of this budget year (March 31, 2018), and start with the new contract at some point.”

Jankowski said he wasn’t sure if the agreement will include retroactive benefits, adding that Council “will have the lawyers look at it and then do the counterproposals -- and go back and forth between Jason and Council."

During the Business meeting, Molino reported that the interview process for the new assistant manager is ongoing. Batavia has been without an assistant manager since July when Gretchen DiFante resigned to take a similar position in the state of Alabama.

Jankowski said he’s in favor of a full-time assistant manager although the City Charter does not indicate the number of hours for the authorized position.

“Because of the city of our size, I believe that an assistant manager is helpful in the event that the manager is unavailable,” he said. “A part-time assistant manager might not be ready to jump into the reins, to jump into the job that needed to happen.”

In other developments, Council:

-- Approved a new contract with the City’s 35 Department of Public Works, wastewater and water treatment plant, highway and parks employees (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union).

The one-year collective bargaining agreement that begins on April 1, 2018 provides the employees a 1.75-percent salary increase, a $450 uniform credit, and reopens talks should sales tax distribution affect the workers. The impact upon the City budget is $38,000.

-- Accepted a $218,000 bid from Hohl Industrial Services Inc., of Tonawanda, to replace and rebuild the traveling mechanical screen and the cyclone grit classifier at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

-- Approved five resolutions transferring various amounts to complete capital projects ($20,000), to the public works equipment reserve fund ($50,000), to the Ellicott Trail pedestrian/bicycle project ($146,000), to the sidewalk reconstruction fund ($25,000) and to the administrative services equipment and software reserve fund ($300,000).

-- Voted to amend the fire department budget to reflect the receipt of a $236,072 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to buy 24 self-contained breathing apparatus units – replacing the ones that have outlived their usefulness.

The grant also provides money to purchase a Pak Tracker system that is used to locate a firefighter who becomes missing or trapped in a dangerous environment.

-- Authorized the City to contract with the state Department of Transportation to complete construction phases of the “Healthy Schools” project in the amount of $982,238, of which 75 percent will be reimbursed to the City.

The pact calls for the early 2018 replacement of 12,300 feet of sidewalk for Liberty Street from East Main Street to Morton Avenue, and Washington Avenue from Ross Street to Bank Street.

-- Heard a brief report from Council Member Rose Mary Christian about the “marvelous” program being offered to youth at City Church’s property on Liberty Street (St. Anthony’s). Christian estimated that 300 children participated in various activities, including basketball, dance and ping pong.

City Manager Jason Molino weathers the storm, leads Batavia into 'growth mode'

By Mike Pettinella


With more than a decade as manager of the City of Batavia under his belt, 38-year-old Jason Molino says he cherishes the opportunity to move the community forward, ever mindful of the support he has received along the way.

Sidebar: City Council president weighs in on Molino’s performance.

“Every day is a new day, and the most fun is the (City of Batavia) staff,” he said. “We are fortunate to have dedicated people who go above and beyond – people who are committed to the community and seeing each other succeed -- and work in a community that is thankful for everything you do. That’s what makes it most enjoyable.”

Molino, a Saratoga Spring native, moved to Batavia in the winter of 2006 after accepting the assistant city manager position.

He admitted that local governmental administration is “a tough field, with a level of scrutiny,” but his motivation comes from understanding that “change happens” at the local level.

Molino started out as an environmental science major in college but switched to political science – a move he doesn’t regret.

“It was the second semester at Norwich (University in Northfield, Vt.) when I decided that environmental science – with all of those science courses – was not for me,” he said.

Also during this time, Molino joined the U.S. Coast Guard reserve as a Petty Officer 2nd Class and stayed on until 2007.

While political science can be a broad field, Molino focused on a degree in management, enrolling at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University of Albany. He overcame some initial doubts to earn a Master of Public Policy degree (the public sector version of an MBA).

“The program was one of the best in the country,” Molino said, noting that many international students – from the Eastern bloc and Asia -- were there “to learn public administration from the American values perspective.”

But Molino said he still wasn’t sure that he made the right move – “I wondered why I was here?” he said – until he took a local government seminar course taught by Bob McEvoy, a retired Schenectady County manager who became Molino’s mentor.

After graduate school and a one-year stint as a management assistant in Schenectady County, in 2004 Molino accepted the position of assistant to the village manager in Port Chester in Westchester County.

His responsibilities included developing budgets for the village’s geographic information system (GIS), leading a yearlong study of sanitation services, coordinating stormwater management, digitizing documents to improve workflow and negotiating labor contracts for 150 full-time employees.

“That was a different environment … a lot of the county’s villages and towns have managers,” Molino said. “When the Batavia assistant manager job was advertised, I applied, thinking that it was an opportunity to come back upstate. It was my journey back north, so to speak.”

It was his first experience with Western New York, however.

“I remember getting into town and stopping at the Chamber of Commerce office, which was downtown, and I grabbed some quarters to put in the parking meters,” he said. “I then realized that I didn’t have to pay for parking. Now that was something I didn’t live with. The next thing I did was check out Royal Rink (now Falleti Ice Arena).”

Molino’s interest in the ice rink stems from his years as a hockey player in Saratoga Springs, a passion that continues today as a goalie in the Batavia Men’s Hockey League.

At the time of his hiring as assistant city manager, Molino said he was unaware of the City’s financial difficulties. It didn’t take him long to see there were problems, however.

“It was around the summer of 2006 when I made Council aware that the City was late in disclosing financial statements,” he said. “There were six to seven years of operational deficits, and I was making a presentation a month to Council that this is what has been happening, and made immediate, short-term and long-term recommendations.”

Shortly thereafter, Molino replaced Matthew Coppler as city manager and embarked on a mission to erase a $2.2 million fund balance deficit. At the age of 26, he was the youngest city manager in the state.

“It was a difficult time,” he recalled. “We had no assistant, the deputy director of finance had left and the City Clerk was on maternity leave.”

Molino said his initial strategy was to draft a balanced budget and “stop the bleeding.”

“We took drastic measures, realizing a small surplus in operations, but the next budget (2007-08) was painful – reduction of services, retirement incentives, tax increases and staff cuts. ”We didn’t even have the proper equipment at that time as the City hadn’t purchased a piece of equipment in 10 years.”

Working together, Molino and City Council managed to stay out of the red every year since, unless there were planned expenditures, such as capital improvement plans and infrastructure projects.

Starting in 2009 and continuing to this day, Molino implemented best practices for budgeting, and the City has been honored by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for the past three years for its budget presentation.

The year 2009 was an important year for Molino personally as he and Batavia native Anna Lesh were married following a two-year courtship. They reside on the city’s northwest side with children, Sophia Dinehart, a senior at Batavia High; Stella, 7; Charley, 5, and Jason Jr., 3.

Other important changes in the past eight years include consolidating police dispatch with Genesee County, abolishing the City’s ambulance service, developing a plan to revitalize the downtown Brownfield Opportunity Area (notably the Batavia Pathways to Prosperity funding arm), and participating in the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“All of this has been driven by us trying to save money and improve operations,” Molino said. “We received pushback, for sure, because these were big decisions, tough decisions. Council made the decisions in light of severe financial challenges.”

Fairport Village Manager Bryan White, who at 37 is on a parallel career track with Molino since their time at Rockefeller College, gives Molino glowing reviews for restoring Batavia’s fiscal health.

“I don’t think Batavia understands the caliber of manager that Jason is,” said White, the current president of the NYS City/County Management Association (a position formerly held by Molino). “He is a true professional who is driven to succeed, who cares about the community and is well-rounded in regard to his thinking and processes.”

White said Molino’s status as a “credentialed manager” speaks volumes.

“You have to be in the program for over seven years just to apply, and you have to prove to your peers that you have achieved a level of competency in public sector management and local government,” he said.

Molino has been successful, White said, by “building an environment that fosters leadership, confidence, and accountability.”

Today, Batavia has emerged from the “recovery mode,” as Molino puts it, into a “growth mode that can propel the community to greater things.”

And last month’s announcement that the City won the $10 million DRI award for the Finger Lakes Region will make Molino’s campaign of $100 Million, I’m All In campaign much more reachable.

“We’re looking for $100 million in investment in the City by 2022,” he said. “With input from the staff, support from Council and the community, we can do it.”

In the meantime, the City has secured $2.5 million in funding for extensive street repair on Union, Clinton, Vine, Liberty and South Liberty streets, and East Avenue in 2018, work that will include resurfacing, sidewalks and water lines, Molino said.

All told, the City has made a remarkable recovery – tax increases, if any, have been minimal; state and federal money is coming in and it looks as though a solution to the ongoing dilemma known as the City Centre Mall is near.

Molino indicated that interviews for the assistant city manager position are concluding and that a final candidate will be introduced within a couple weeks. Batavia has been without an assistant to Molino since the departure of Gretchen DiFante in July.

 “There have been challenges and curveballs, but throughout all of this, City Council has made the decisions to allow these things to progress – a lot of important decisions,” said Molino, who manages a $25 million budget and a workforce of 140 (full-time equivalent).

He said that discussions are ongoing with the owner of property on Swan Street, a parcel targeted by a city task force for a potential site for a new police headquarters.

“We’re trying to get a contract for a sale in front of Council,” he said, adding that a facility with a $10 million to $15 million price tag would have a significant impact on taxes – and will trigger community input from those on both sides of the fence.

Molino said he understands that public criticism of those charged with making the decisions comes with the territory.

“Anybody that gets into this line of work must accept the fact that he or she will be criticized publicly,” he said. “Even with the best of intentions and ideas, it is the people’s right to criticize. While I don’t take it personally, sometimes people cross the line.

“But at the end of the day, I’m recommending what I believe to be the best possible solutions, giving Council the information to make its decision.”

Jankowski on Molino: Maturity, patience bringing things to light

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski says that a combination of maturity and patience has enabled City Manager Jason Molino to have grown “by leaps and bounds” since he took over as a fledgling administrator in 2006.

“You have to credit the city manager for putting the right people in the right place, and trusting them to do their job,” said Jankowski, a former city police officer who has served as City Council president for the past two years. “Over the last four years, he has grown exponentially – looking at the big picture and making moves today that will have a positive outcome down the road.”

Jankowski said City Council and management have worked as a team to overcome hard times in Batavia, but acknowledged that it hasn’t been an easy road for Molino.

“He started out kind of young and that was a disadvantage in that respect. He was thrust into it and had a lot of ground to make up,” Jankowski said.

Molino made decisions in the late 2000s that were “not popular,” according to Jankowski, who admitted that he did not agree with many of them.

“It was a bad situation; we had to tighten our belt,” he said. “Eventually, there was daylight, thanks to strong budgeting and fiscal responsibility. The past four years, Council has taken more responsibility and now we are in the building stage, with a little room to look toward the future.”

Jankowski said that all of the good things happening today – revitalization of the former Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, the JJ Newberry building on Main Street, the $10 million state DRI award, fixing the City Centre Mall situation – have come about as a result of strategic planning and implementation.

“Council made these priorities and Jason has been working on these for several years,” he said. “He has built bridges and through careful planning has made this happen.”

Jankowski said that a true sign of maturity was Molino’s approach to a second DRI application after Batavia lost out in its initial attempt.

“He did his research and modified the second application with a totally different pitch – a total different angle,” he said. “He learned from things that didn’t go so well and made the adjustments to make it work.”

All in all, Jankowski said he was encouraged and excited over the City’s recent good fortune.

“We even were able to buy a $900,000 fire truck, paying in cash, and that is due to Jason’s foresight by keeping the budget trim. Normally, we would have had to take out a bond and pay thousands of dollars in interest over so many years.”

Jankowski said Molino deserves to be acknowledged for hanging tough.

“When things were going bad, he took the heat,” he said. “Now that things have turned around, he should get the credit.” 

City Council says 'no' to pay raise for Molino, receives positive report on 2016-17 audit

By Mike Pettinella

Unless the subject is brought to the table in the coming weeks – and that is a possibility – Batavia City Manager Jason Molino will not be getting a raise this year.

Tonight City Council voted 5-4 against a 2.75-percent salary increase for Molino, who has been instrumental in the community’s Downtown resurgence, which recently was punctuated by a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York State.

Council members Rose Mary Christian, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, Paul Viele and Robert Bialkowski voted “no” to the raise, while Adam Tabelski, John Canale, Pattie Pacino and Council President Eugene Jankowski voted “yes.”

The 2.75-percent hike, which was in the city budget, would have upped Molino’s annual pay from $93,782 – reportedly the lowest salary for a city manager in the state – to $96,361.

Even before the resolution came up in the meeting, Christian took the floor, stating that she had “some questions” about the process because it is the “taxpayers’ money.” Jankowski cut her off, and said that everything would be covered in executive session after the public meeting.

When the matter came up again (it was the last resolution on the agenda), Bialkowski contended that the raise had not been presented in the form of a resolution as required by the City Charter. Both Jankowski and Molino countered that it was put forth as a draft resolution in July – a fact confirmed by this reporter’s check of the July Conference Meeting agenda.

Bialkowski made a motion to delay the vote again, but that was defeated 6-3, after Christian questioned whether some on the Council up for election this year wanted to wait "because if it's passed now, you won't get elected."

She also, once again, questioned the process used to determine raises.

“I don’t like the system and I don’t like the 2.75 percent,” she said. “This comes up every January, so we go to the next budget, and they say we gave Jason 2.75 percent, so we have to give the department heads the same 2.75.”

Jankowski said that January is the time to discuss that and that Council is in the “process of changing the procedure, which will be talked about in executive session.”

Following the meeting, Jankowski said he previously asked that the vote be delayed to the fall since he knew he was going to miss a meeting and “wanted to be here to vote on it because it is controversial.”

“I wanted my intentions to be known, which were to reward the city manager for his proper work over the last year – it was budgeted for in January for him getting a favorable evaluation, which he did receive,” Jankowski said. “So I felt obligated to honor that contract.”

Jankowski and Bialkowski both said they thought the issue could be presented to Council again, with the former stating that he was going to explore the options going forward.

Molino, contacted by phone after the executive session, did not want to comment on the record.

Hired in July 2006, Molino is responsible for a workforce of about 140 (full-time equivalents) and manages a $25 million budget. The city’s budget presentation was honored for the third straight year by Government Finance Officers Association (see press release below).

In other developments, Council:

-- Heard a report on the city’s audit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, which produced “overall positive results,” said Laura Landers, CPA, of Freed Maxick.

“The unassigned fund balances put the city in a stable position,” said Landers, who highlighted the community’s statement of net position for its general, water and sewer funds.

Landers said the city was required to have a full audit this year – and likely for the next few years – because it expended more than $750,000 in federal Department of Transportation funds.

On the general fund, she said revenues of $16.2 million were less than expenditures of $17.6 million, thus decreasing the fund balance to $7.1 million, but that was done by design.

“It was a planned use of reserves of almost $1.7 million for sidewalks, capital improvements, and equipment,” Landers said, as well as for (as Molino pointed out), a fire truck and health-care expenses.

Landers noted that actual revenues were slightly less than budgeted, sales tax revenue also came in less than budgeted and expenditures – continuing a 10-year trend – also were less than the budgeted figure.

Of the $7.1 million fund balance, $1.8 million is unassigned, meaning that it can be used for whatever City Council wishes, Landers said.

Both the water and sewer funds showed operating surpluses, and have $2.4 million and $3.5 million in funds restricted for capital improvements, Landers said.

-- Was updated by Molino on the progress of the $10 million in DRI funds that were awarded to the city last week when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in town.

Molino said the state has selected a consultant, LaBella Associates, a Western New York firm which has done work in the past for the Town and City of Batavia, and will be choosing a steering committee in the next couple weeks with the goal of submitting projects to the governor’s office.

“It’s a rough process – similar to a Request for Proposal process with certain criteria,” he said. “I would think that less is more in order to be able to evaluate projects, but there’s really not a lot of concrete information to give you at this point.”

Still, the program is on a fast track, Molino said, as recommendations are expected to be sent to Albany by February.

-- Voted unanimously to adopt the updated Comprehensive Plan after learning that some grammatical and formatting errors in the 100-plus-page document will be rectified and that all items, particularly form-based codes, will have to be brought before Council prior to being implemented.

Bialkowski said he was dismayed that errors existed in the document in light of the fact that Council authorized spending $100,000 for outside consultants to update the plan for the first time in about 20 years.

-- Voted to release five properties sold at auction to the highest bidders as follows: 29 Brooklyn Ave., Louie Kingsbury, $4,000; 200 S. Swan St., Geib Corporation, $20,000; 1 Watson St., Justin and Yasmeen Calmes, $13,500; 46 Swan St., Justin and Yasmeen Calmes, $1,500; and 2 Willow St., Robert Fritschi, $19,000.

City wins national budgeting award for second consecutive year, Molino 'primarily responsible'

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) is pleased to announced that the City of Batavia, New York has received the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget.

The award represents a signficant achievement by the entity. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of government budgeting. In order to receive the award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity's budget serves as:

  • a policy document;
  • a financial plan;
  • an operations guide;
  • and a communications device.

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and the 14 mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual or department designated as being primarily responsible for its having achieved the award. This has been presented to City Manager Jason Molino.

For budgets beginning in 2015, approximately 1,550 participants received the award. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

The Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of approximately 18,700 appointed and elected local, state, and provencial-level government officials and other finance practitioners. It provides top-quality publications, training programs, services, and products designed to enhance the skills and performance of those responsible for government finance policy and management.

The association is headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Washington, D.C. The GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.


City manager's new greenhouse reflects trend toward environmentally friendly uses of local backyards

By Howard B. Owens


Batavia's landscape is changing, with more vegetable gardens, chicken coops and solar panels, and that's a trend the city would like to see continue, said City Manager Jason Molino while showing off his family's new greenhouse in the backyard of their home on Vernon Avenue.

Molino said code enforcement officers Ron Panek and Doug Randall report seeing more and more of these sort of backyard amenities, which is right in line with the city's strategic thinking about creating a more livable and sustainable environment, the kind of environment marketing studies and news reports show Millennials are seeking.

"This is just one example of what you can do," Molino said. "It shows how you can take your space and make it more livable and enjoyable for the whole family."

This particular greenhouse cost Molino a bit less than $900 to build, and the size of it required a city permit. But greenhouses can be built for a lot less and at a smaller scale so that no permit is required. As the city goes through its comprehensive plan review, one thing planners will be asked to consider is how to both streamline the process and protect the ability of residents to incorporate these sort of projects into their yards.

Every board, nail and pane of glass was locally sourced, Molino said, including the unique roof, which is a green roof grown right here in Batavia.

Comprised of several varieties of sedum, which is a plant that stores water and grows well in a wide range of climate zones, green roofs help insulate a building, control stormwater runoff (and thereby inhibit the flow of pollutants into storm drains) and improve air quality.

Vegetal I.D. is a company based in Batavia (the U.S. division of the French company Le Prieuré) that grows trays of sedum for green roofs on land leased from C.Y. Farms. The company's customer base, said Sander Teensma, is within a 500-mile radius of Batavia, which brings in a variety of climates where these sedum roofs thrive.

"This is an idea that is gaining momentum," Teensma said. 

For the Molino family, the greenhouse is a project "that took on a life of its own," Jason said. For the past few years, the Molinos have been growing vegetables in their backyard, and as their children have gotten older, they've become more active participants in the process. It's a life-learning lesson the Molinos want to encourage. So they started talking about what they could do next -- more raised beds, a chicken coop, or perhaps a greenhouse.

Molino got his uncle involved and they started designing a greenhouse and finding sources of local material for construction. One thing led to another, and Molino decided a green roof would be perfect for the project, especially since there was a local company that could provide the roof.

And the whole project fits right in with the direction of the city's plan for a revised comprehensive plan that aims to focus on amenities and lifestyle choices for the up-and-coming generation of Americans who seek a life less defined by corporate dictates, more authentic in food choices and more environmentally conscious.

The comprehensive plan can help guide the city toward the kind of living environment people increasingly seem to be seeking so it doesn't lose out on the growth opportunity.

"We incorporate those ideas into the comprehensive plan so we advance the ideas and they can be done more easily," Molino said. "It helps market the community to capture a lot of the growth that's going to happen in the county over the next 10 years."

If projects such as STAMP are successful -- and the coming of 1366 Technologies is a hopeful sign -- then it should mean an influx of the kind of jobs Millennials will seek, then it's critical for Batavia to position itself as a livable community for those workers, or risk losing most of them to Buffalo or Rochester.

"The comprehensive plan reflects the values we want to see in the community over the next five to 10 years," Molino said. "We want to encourage and make it easier (to build these sorts of projects). If these are the amenities and quality-of-life features that people want, and we're seeing a trend when they buy homes and properties, how do we ensure that we can continue that trend and how can we build off of that? That's what the comprehensive plan does."


Craig Yunker, of C.Y. Farms, Jason Molino, Sander Teensma, and Paul Brent, production manager for Vegetal I.D.


Batavia city manager appointed to NYCOM Executive Committee

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Jason R. Molino, city manager of the City of Batavia, has been appointed to a one-year term on the 16-member Executive Committee of the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials.

Mayor Richard Milne of the Village of Honeoye Falls, president of the Conference of Mayors, made the selection. Molino will represent NYCOM's affiliate organizations and is the only member of the Committee who is not a mayor.

In announcing the appointment, Mayor Milne said "Jason Molino is a recognized leader and innovator in the field of local government administration, and NYCOM will clearly benefit from his energy and ideas."

Molino was the recipient of the 2014 Local Government Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance from the International City and County Management Association. Prior to coming to Batavia, he served as the assistant to the village manager for the Village of Port Chester. He also spent seven years in the Coast Guard Reserve where he earned the rank of Boatswain's Mate Second Class.

Molino has his bacherlor's degree in Political Science from Norwich University and went on to earn his master's degree in Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs.

The Conference of Mayors is the statewide association representing New York's cities and villages. Since 1910, NYCOM has united local government officials in an active network of legislative advocacy, technical assistance and municipal training.

Molino honored by city management association

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Jason Molino, City Manager for the City of Batavia, recently received the Credentialed Manager designation from ICMA, the International City/County Management Association. Jason is one of over 1,300 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program.

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by promoting professional management worldwide and increasing the proficiency of appointed chief administrative officers, assistant administrators, and other employees who serve local governments and regional entities around the world. The organization’s nearly 9,000 members in 27 countries also include educators, students, and other local government employees.

To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.

Jason is qualified by more than eight years of professional local government executive experience. Prior to his appointment in 2006 as City Manager of Batavia, he served as the Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Port Chester, NY.  In addition, Jason served as a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the United State Coast Guard Reserve from 2000-2007

Highlights of Jason’s ICMA membership include: member of the 2009 Montreal ICMA Conference Planning Committee and most recently the City of Batavia and Jason were recognized by ICMA as recipients for the 2014 Program Excellence Award for Strategic Leadership and Governance.
Jason has also made significant contributions to a number of other organizations, including: serving as Board Member of the New York State City/County Management Association, current member and former President of Genesee County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Graduate of Leadership Genesee – Class of 2008.

Molino given raise by council after discussion on whether raise was discussed enough

By Howard B. Owens

On a 5-3 vote, the City Council agreed Monday to give City Manager Jason Molino a 2.5 percent raise, retroactive to April 1.

It was a merit raise, said Councilman John Canale.

Councilman Eugene Jankowski expressed concern that the public hasn't been given adequate opportunity to hear from council members on why Molino deserves a raise and to voice their own opinions.

"At this point, we're limiting ourselves to only one discussion," Jankowski said. "It sends a message of some kind of exception being made and I don't think that's the case. It's just an oversight."

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian also objected to the seeming lack of public discussion prior to the vote.

"This was all handled in executive session and never brought to the floor for any kind of discussion," Christian said. "You can't vote for spending public monies without a discussion, so we should have the discussion and take it from there."

City Attorney George Van Ness explained to council members that Molino's raise this time around is being handled no different than it's been handled in the past and no different from any other employees or any labor agreement.

The particulars are discussed in open session, a consensus is reached among council members, and then a vote is held at a business meeting, where more discussion can take place -- as was taking place Monday night -- before the vote.

"Matters related to the employment issues of a particular individual are appropriately discussed in an executive session," Van Ness said. "If it comes to a situation where there's a decision about the award of or wage adjustment, that's a matter that's presented for public discussion and a public vote. That's what's teed up here this evening."

Councilman John Deleo missed Monday's meeting because of another obligation, but provided Jankowski with a written statement on his behalf objecting to the raise and stating that the hiring of an assistant city manager was supposedly intended to lesson Molino's workload.

Councilman Kris Doeringer said he believed that was a misstatement of why an assistant city manager was hired.

"She was hired to do more work, not lesson Jason's workload," Doeringer said. "We were concerned about Jason's workload and everything he needs to get done and everything the city needs to get done to move forward."

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said the merit of the raise was discussed extensively over two executive sessions.

"We did talk at length," Pacino said. "We discussed whether we should give him a raise or not give him a raise, what did he do to deserve a raise. We really discussed it all. I understand we should bring it out in the open and people can say negative things as well, but we really did discuss this a lot."

Members Kathy Briggs, Jankowski and Christian all voted no on giving Molino a raise.

City's getting to the root of sidewalk problems - slowly but surely

By Bonnie Marrocco

With this long stretch of summer-like weather, many people are jogging and walking in Batavia. Some are tripping over sidewalks that are uneven and bowed by ever expanding tree roots and others are not able to use them at all.

The sidewalk on the east side of Fairmont and Norris was one such case: It was cracked and buckled several inches, making it difficult to walk on for most people and impossible for Marguerite Badami to push her elderly, wheelchair-bound father across.

"My father is a longtime resident of the area and I take him for walks every day," Badami said. "I always have to push him in the street because there is just no way I can get his wheelchair over that huge bump on the sidewalk."

The city is responsible for repairs to sidewalks that are inoperable and uneven, those which present walking and tripping hazards. If they cannot be patched, then the concrete has to be removed, the roots ground down and new cement poured.

Peter Corbelli and his family live in the house adjacent to the same sidewalk. We interviewed him a few days before repairs began and he said couldn't understand why the city hadn't done anything about it.

"It was in bad shape when we moved here in 1998 and it just gets worse every year," Corbelli said.

We left a message with City Manager Jason Molino on Thursday about the sidewalk problem. On Friday, he said it was scheduled for repairs this fall and that they were taking care of it.

Later that day, residents of Fairmont and Norris informed us that city construction on the sidewalk finally began.

"The city spent $500,000 in the last five years on sidewalk fixes and we're making this a priority," Molino said. "We are attacking the areas that are used the most often, then working our way out. We are getting there slowly, but surely."

Although the city is making progress, this is an ongoing project. There are thousands of trees here and many of them are silver maples, which have aggressive root systems that can cause serious damage to sidewalks and power lines.

"Batavia spends $25,000 a year on tree removal and another $5,000 on planting different species of less invasive trees," Molino said.

Molino addresses conference of mayors for the third straight year

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

Batavia City Manager, Jason Molino, spoke to approximately 75 attendees at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday during the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) 2013 Fall Training School that took place this week in Saratoga Springs.

Molino addressed the group as part of a discussion about budgeting and finance, a topic which Molino has been asked to speak about before. Molino shared Batavia’s budgeting process and outlined the way in which it has been successfully linked to the City’s Strategic Plan the past three years. He also shared Batavia’s achievements in developing a progressive employee wellness plan, successful water loss program and cost-effective sewer infrastructure improvements.

Last year Molino was invited to address attendees at NYCOM’s 2012 CFO Summit about Batavia’s Wellness Initiative.

“Our wellness initiative has resulted in higher employee and spouse participation as well as aggressive pursuit to minimize future healthcare costs for the City,” Molino said, “and after the summit last year, I received multiple phone calls from other cities and villages requesting more details about our wellness initiative.”

“One of NYCOM’s core functions is to educate and train local officials, and the September conference is our largest conference of the year,” said Barbara VanEpps, NYCOM’s deputy director. “During this conference, it’s important that our members walk away with a wealth of knowledge. We keep inviting Jason (Molino) to speak to our members because he has provided many good ideas regarding initiatives that the City of Batavia has undertaken that not have only helped Batavia to reduce expenses and function more efficiently, but that can also be replicated in other cities and villages across the state.”

“We are thrilled that Jason has been asked to represent Batavia on the state level for three years in a row,” said Batavia City Councilwoman Patty Pacino. “Jason is constantly pushing the envelope seeking to make Batavia a better, more viable place to live and work, and he is also an excellent teacher. The fact that NYCOM continues to invite Jason to help educate others clearly demonstrates the respect Jason has earned from other city, village and town leaders. This kind of recognition is important for Batavia, because while we realize that the programs we are doing and the decisions we are making are effective, being recognized by the state serves to reinforce the quality of those decisions.”

NYCOM, founded in 1910, has 1,579 members which include counties, cities, towns and villages across New York State. NYCOM’s mission is threefold: to serve as an advocate for city and village governments and their taxpayers before the state’s government; to serve as a readily accessible source of practical information for every area of municipal activity; and to serve as the preeminent provider of training for local government officials.

Council unanimously supports 'reasonable' raise for city manager

By Howard B. Owens

City Manager Jason Molino's 1.5-percent raise approved unanimously by the Batavia City Council on Monday is "reasonable," said Council President Tim Buckley after the meeting.

"In today’s economy (it) is very reasonable," Buckley said. "It’s not a lot of money, but it shows something that council supports him and his efforts."

Molino will now make $86,009.

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said, "he deserves it. Trust me, he does."

Pacino credited Molino with greatly improving the city's financial standing.

"When I started on this council we were ready to turn the lights off in the city and now we have a rating of A2," Pacino said. "He knows what he’s doing and he’s taking us there."

Buckley said Molino's recent performance review "came back with high marks."

The only criticism of Molino's raise heard in council chambers Monday was from John Roach, who suggested Molino should be required to give up his six-month severance package before getting any more raises.

"If he's ever fired, even for cause, he gets six months severance," Roach said. "I think $43,000 is excessive."

Roach added, "Obviously, the council didn't agree with me."

The 1.5-percent raise was part of the city's last approved budget and is in line with what other non-union workers are getting.

Molino said he's grateful for the vote of confidence from the council.

As city finance's improve, council balks at raise for manager

By Howard B. Owens

In the years since Jason Molino took over as city manager, Batavia has gone from an annual deficit of $1.2 million to a surplus in 2009-2010 of $475,800.

Yet, minutes after the City Council heard an audit report on the city's improving financial condition, the council split 4-5 on a motion to meet in a closed session to grant Molino -- among the lowest paid top administrators of any city in the state -- a modest raise.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked to postpone the discussion saying he had only recently received information that should be investigated before a vote on Molino's compensation.

When the council did go into closed session, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian declined to join the discussion.

There are families in Batavia that are hurting financially, Christian said, and until the economy turns around, she can't support any increase in spending.

While the other council members huddled behind a closed door, Christian said she thinks highly of Molino.

"I am not opposed to Jason Molino by any means," Christian said. "I’m opposed to any more spending."

When the council emerged, a resolution was passed on an 8-1 vote granting Molino a 1.5-percent pay increase retroactive to April 1, 2010.

Molino makes $84,260. The top administrator in Beacon, with a population 2,000 less than Batavia, makes $123,000. In Cortland, with a slightly bigger population, the top administrator makes $101,000. Geneva's city manager makes $94,000. (See Through New York for salaries; for populations.)

Meanwhile, an audit report prepared by Freed Maxick & Battaglia shows that the city matched actual revenue with budgeted revenue in the recent fiscal year, after three consecutive years of exceeding revenue projections.

On the expenditure side of the ledger, the city, for the third-straight year kept spending below budget levels, with $445,000 saved in 2009-10.

Auditor Laura Landers (inset picture) credited the city with conservative budgeting, cuts in 2008-09, a decrease in health insurance costs, not filling vacant positions and deferring expenditures on aging equipment.

The city has been able to build a fund balance of $2.8 million over the past four years. In 2006, the fund balance was in the red $1.3 million.

The fund balance allows the city to build reserves for workers' compensation, insurance, capital projects, employee benefits and other reserves necessary to provide the city with a cushion against deficit spending.

Among the areas Molino recommends building up fund reserves for is the Department of Public Works and fire department equipment. He recommends reserves of $150,000 for DPW and $50,000 for fire. Within five years, Molino said, the fire department will need a new pumper.

"Right now, most of our equipment, if not all, is completely depreciated," Molino said. "Last year was the first time we purchased equipment in about seven or eight years."

While I was trying to take a picture of Christian alone in the council chambers, Chief Randy Baker came over and started talking with her, and then Jason Molino wanted to jump in the picture.

Authentically Local