Workers at Schenectady’s sewage treatment plant don’t have to live in the city — but the city assessor does.
Mayor Gary McCarthy decided to finalize the hiring of four treatment plant workers who passed their Civil Service exams but live outside the city. At the same time, he told Assessor Tina Dimitriadis to start looking for another job.
Dimitriadis has now left the city workforce, although her contract was not up until the end of September.
Councilman Vince Riggi said the decision was unfair.
“Obviously it’s arbitrary,” he said. “That’s not a level playing field — you can pick and choose.”
McCarthy said it wasn’t arbitrary — merely practical. When the city took over the privately run plant last year, he offered jobs to every worker, regardless of where they lived. “We grandfathered them in because we needed the skill set,” he said.
He notified the council when he finalized their hirings after the Civil Service exams.
Although several of the hires live in the city, two others live in Rotterdam Junction, a third lives in Scotia and a fourth lives in Esperance.
Three are laboratory technicians, paid an hourly rate of $19.62. The fourth is a machine operator, with an hourly rate of $15.94.
Some residents have demanded that those sorts of jobs, which pay well and require some college education, should be offered to city residents. The city’s residency law also requires that all new hires move into the city.
McCarthy said he would not force the plant workers to move in but “We’re trying to encourage people to move here.”
Riggi was not impressed.
“Encouraging?” he said. “That’s interesting. He certainly used it against the assessor.”
Dimitriadis wanted to stay in Colonie to care for her elderly father in his duplex.
McCarthy told her that he would not renew her contract unless she moved to the city. He also told the new police Chief, Brian Kilcullen, that he would not get the top job unless he agreed to move to the city. Kilcullen now lives in Schenectady with his parents on weekdays and commutes home to Saratoga County on weekends.
Riggi said that if some workers are given an exemption because of their skill set, others should too.
“Where do we qualify the skill set for someone like the assessor?” he asked. “In other words, we’re saying no one in the city has the skill set to do what these [plant workers] are doing?”