Wellsville eyes changes to two fiscal positions

WELLSVILLE – Wellsville is considering changes to the ordinances that govern the positions of fiscal officer and assistant fiscal officer.

Village Council’s finance committee, which readied the proposal, will present it to the full council at its meeting tonight.

Under the proposed changes, the assistant’s position would be reduced to part-time, not to exceed 24 hours, and a fixed rate of $10 an hour. All other benefits, including paid holiday, vacation, bereavement, sick and personal hours, would be eliminated, along with the option of participating in village health or life insurance plans.

The fiscal officer ordinance was also subject to significant revisions, beginning with a reduction in pay from $34,000 a year to $28,500.

A debate about how best to phrase the required working hours led to additional clues of the administration’s dissatisfaction with former fiscal officer Dale Davis, who resigned on Jan. 12.

Committee member Tony Cataldo stressed the need for flexibility in the job, being one of greater seniority than that of other village employees. Committee chairwoman Diane Dinch countered by saying council had to ensure that a person hired to a full-time position would work their share of full-time hours.

“You don’t want somebody who’s just going to come in and maybe put in 15 hours a week, and they’re collecting a salary,” Dinch said.

“We’ve been doing that for eight years with one,” Cataldo replied with a laugh.

Acknowledging this has been a problem with other past fiscal officers, not just the most recent one, Dinch proposed the idea of 30-hour-week minimum. Mayor Susan Haugh agreed the ordinance needed “teeth” to ensure that a person hired to the position would know that they would not receive pay for hours that aren’t worked.

Acting fiscal officer Cassie Bloor was asked her opinion, given her years of experience in the fiscal office, of how many hours are required to perform the job properly. She said an average of six hours per day seemed right, matching Dinch’s proposal.

The committee then agreed to a minimum 120 hours worked per month. Dinch said this arrangement would leave 40 hours free each month, which the fiscal officer could take in the form of a whole week off if they choose, thereby providing the flexibility that Cataldo had insisted upon. An added benefit is that it negates the need for vacation hours, sick hours and other regular paid leave.

Dinch stated health insurance coverage had to be retained, however, citing the need to attract qualified people. “You’re designing this ordinance for a position, not a person,” she said, explaining that council needed to look farther down the road than the person that Haugh will soon appoint to the job.

While the above revisions were approved to bring before council, the committee decided to table village administrator Thom Edgell’s proposal to accelerate an unnamed employee’s position through the village’s five-step pay classification.

Dinch and Cataldo both urged Edgell to revisit the issue in the spring after anticipated tax revenues begin to come in, with Dinch saying that savings from salary reductions in one area should not be immediately offset with salary increases elsewhere. She also reminded those in attendance that the expiration of a federal COPS grant would mean money would need to be transferred from the village’s general fund in order to cover the loss.

After delivering that note of caution, Dinch outlined her committee’s job as hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. “We’ll always paint the dismal picture, because that’s what finance needs to do,” she said.