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Council to consider changes to fiscal officer ordinance

February 5, 2013
Morning Journal News

WELLSVILLE - The Wellsville Village Council Finance Committee met Monday morning to consider modifications to the ordinances governing the positions of fiscal officer and assistant fiscal officer for the village. Both ordinance overhauls were approved in committee and will be brought before council at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Under the proposed changes, the position of assistant fiscal officer would be reduced from a full-time to a part-time position, with hours not to exceed 24 per week. Pay would go from an hourly rate of up to $10.34 per hour to a fixed rate of $10 per hour. All other employee 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 annual pay. The salaried position would go from $34,000 down to $28,500 per year.

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 that 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. Village Mayor Susan Haugh agreed that 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 replied that an average of six hours per day seemed right, matching up with Dinch's recommended 30-hour work week.

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 to 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 that health insurance coverage had to be retained, however, citing the need to attract qualified individuals to the job. "You're designing this ordinance for a position, not a person," she said, explaining that council needed to look further 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 C.O.P.S. 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.



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