The Common Council on Tuesday overrode Mayor Ann Thane’s veto of a new contract for the municipal golf course pro.
The council had a lively discussion about the issue prior to Tuesday’s meeting, including arguments for and against the contract and comments from members of the Golf Commission.
Thane vetoed the contract two days after the Common Council approved it 4-1 on Nov. 18, citing various problems with the contract including its five-year term and her contention that it was incomplete.
“The contract is incomplete in this state,” Thane said.
According to Thane there are items missing from the contract, including financial statements and a business plan, and the last item states it “needs to be added.”
The contract gives the golf pro, Joseph Merendo, a 13 percent raise, excluding the fact that his salary includes money to hire a ranger, which he is required to do.
Thane said Tuesday she particularly has a problem with the five-year term of the contract when previous contracts were only three years.
She said she hasn’t seen a plan for the golf course that extends for five years and the course has various issues, including drainage problems estimated to cost $400,000 to fix.
“This binds two councils and another mayor,” Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, said.
The contract also puts the Golf Commission in charge of the golf pro rather than the mayor by changing the wording in the contract.
A motion by Wills to allow a vote on a resolution amending that portion of the contract was denied.
The discussion regarding the pro’s contract opened old wounds regarding the golf course, including who controls the course, infrastructure, planning and financial problems.
“I feel that if there are problems … it has nothing to do with the golf pro’s contract,” Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward, said.
Regardless of Thane’s assertion that the issue was not a personal one but was a problem with the contract itself, the discussion turned personal when Wills attacked Merendo’s job performance.
Ron Barone, chairman of the Golf Commission, called Wills’ comments “unfair” to a “gentleman that has been serving the community for so long.”
Supporting the contract, Barone pointed to Merendo’s personal qualities as a person who works well with children, is professional and goes above and beyond for the community.
“He has done more for the children inside and outside the community, he has set up little outings for the children to come up and learn golf. This guy has put in a lot of time and effort, and he gets chastised for it,” Barone said.
Attempts to contact Merendo Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
In voting for the contract in November, Alderwoman Kim Brumley, C-3rd Ward, said her reasons involved Merendo’s qualities as a pro, regardless of the contract.
In explaining her vote two weeks ago, Brumley said Merendo has worked as the city’s golf pro for many years, does a good job and will continue to provide a good service to the golf course.