Schenectady County

Macejka made full-time Rotterdam assessor

Members of the Town Board approved a resolution restoring former part-time Assessor John Macejka Jr.

John Macejka Jr. will soon be back on the job full-time.

Members of the Town Board approved a resolution restoring the former part-time assessor to a full-time position during their meeting Monday. He was given a $66,600 annual salary with 20 days vacation, five days bereavement and a $3,000 buyout for health insurance. The appointment was made on a 4-1 vote.

Supervisor Harry Buffardi said Macejka’s full-time position will begin effective Sept. 17 and extend through September 2013, at which time board members will have to decide whether to reappoint him. He said the 25 contested assessments and 35 tax challenges filed against the town this year highlighted the need to have a full-time assessor.

Buffardi also cited the recent payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement with General Electric and an uptick in development as times when the town could have used a full time assessor. He said assessment questions arising in the supervisor’s office during normal business hours often were unanswered because his and Macejka’s hours at town hall didn’t coincide.

“We have had some issues with not having a full-time assessor,” he said during the meeting. The part-time assessor, “doesn’t appear to be working out.”

Board member Robert Godlewski didn’t agree. He said Buffardi didn’t seem to have an issue with having a part-time assessor when he took office in January and questioned what had prompted him to change his mind.

“Nine months ago, this wasn’t an issue” he said.

Godlewski also questioned the legitimacy of Macejka’s appointment — and all the decisions the assessor has made ever since. He claims Macejka never signed his oath of office within the 30-day time period under law; he also asked whether the assessor could legitimately make changes to the tax roll if he had not taken the oath.

“My concern is by not taking that oath, that office is vacant,” he said.

Town Attorney Kate McGuirl indicated she would investigate whether Macejka signed the oath and the ramifications if he didn’t.

Macejka’s appointment is the latest in a long saga between him and the town. He was employed by Rotterdam from July 2003 until December 2007, when the Republican-led board replaced him with Craig Surprise in 2008.

In February 2008, board members agreed to pay Macejka about $8,000 for 259 hours worth of vacation leave he had banked while employed by the town. About six months later, he was hired to replace the retiring assessor of the town of Guilderland in Albany County.

Macejka came back to Rotterdam in 2010, after Supervisor Frank Del Gallo forced Surprise from office by halving his pay. Only Macejka came back under the agreement that he’d work part-time — about 17.5 hours per week — so he could stagger his office hours before and after his time in Guilderland.

Then in February, Macejka was fired by Guilderland. He has since filed a lawsuit against Guilderland for back pay and reinstatement to his job, claiming that board fired him without cause.

Macejka continued on as the part-time assessor in Rotterdam, earning a salary of $33,305 with no benefits or retirement credits. Godlewski said increasing his position to full-time — essentially doubling his salary — is fiscally irresponsible during a time when the town is facing a tough financial outlook.

“I see no reason to make this a full-time job,” he said, citing that the bulk of the assessor’s work is done before the tax rolls are filed over the summer. “I do believe this is very irresponsible to do at this time.”

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