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What you need to know for 07/26/2017

Action delayed on Glenville job change

Action delayed on Glenville job change

The vote to make the Glenville town supervisor’s office a full-time position has been postponed two

The vote to make the Glenville town supervisor’s office a full-time position has been postponed two weeks to accommodate any more residents who want to have their say on the topic.

The Town Board was originally scheduled to take a vote Wednesday on the issue, which has become contentious in recent weeks after the public felt the restructuring of the supervisor’s office was being rushed without their input.

The board voted two weeks ago to schedule a public hearing on the issue Wednesday, but when the town clerk submitted a public notice of the event for publication, the date and time were inadvertently left out. For this reason, the board decided to keep the public hearing open until its Dec. 18 meeting, which will be the last opportunity residents have to speak out before the board takes a vote on the issue.

“I am very aware of the sensitivity of the topic, so I’ve asked the board to adjourn the public hearing and reopen it on the 18th so that anybody who felt they didn’t have a chance to be heard because of this technical mess-up can be heard,” said town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.

Still, after a presentation by Koetzle on the proposed restructuring, 13 people spoke at Wednesday’s public hearing to express their concerns or support for the supervisor position going full-time.

Critics of the proposal were familiar faces — former town supervisor Frank Quinn, former Democratic candidate for supervisor Cathryn Bern-Smith and Glenville Democratic Committee Vice Chair Michele Draves, among others.

Quinn said his primary concern with the proposal was that it included no written job description for a full-time supervisor.

“It changes the duties, the specific daily duties, of the town supervisor,” he said. “You changed the pay accordingly, that makes sense, but you don’t give the town supervisor more duties without giving a written job description. What you’re really doing is giving the town supervisor a big, fat, beautiful Christmas present, a guaranteed four-year job, without a job description or performance standards.”

One resident questioned whether making the supervisor’s position full-time would cause turmoil in town operations whenever there is a new face after an election. Another resident wanted to know if Koetzle had the experience and skills to run a town full-time. Others simply wanted to know if the board could post information about the proposal on the town website.

One concern that appears unlikely to go away is the process with which the board originally sought to make the change, which was prompted by the Nov. 6 announcement that Director of Operations Jamie MacFarland would retire by the end of the year.

MacFarland informed the board of his decision to retire the day after Election Day, causing the board to consider whether to hire a replacement or look at what they call a more efficient restructuring of the town’s administrative staff. Their proposal was to move the supervisor’s office to a full-time position. They proposed an $83,000 salary for the job — the same salary MacFarland received — and eliminating the director of operations position.

The proposal prompted immediate outrage, particularly from the Scotia-Glenville Democratic Committee, which said it was illegal to change the supervisor’s pay after a hearing on the preliminary budget had already been held.

However, an exception in New York Town Law allows the annual salary of an elected officer to be increased through Municipal Home Rule Law, but requires a public hearing on the change and is subject to a permissive referendum.

Law aside, residents at a Nov. 20 public hearing said that they were upset with the timing. In essence, announcing the plan after winning an election just didn’t seem right, they said.

But Koetzle has insisted it would have been wrong of the board to force MacFarland to announce his intention to retire on any other timeline than his own. On Wednesday, he delivered a lengthy defense of the board’s intentions.

“I was elected CEO of the town of Glenville,” Koetzle said after the public hearing Wednesday. “No referendum can change that. No salary can change that. No part-time or full-time hours can change that. My qualifications are clear. I’ve stood in front of this community three times now and told them why I was qualified, what my visions are for this community, and what I would do for this community on their behalf. I believe for the past six years I have delivered on my promises. Nobody ever questioned my integrity.”

There were residents who spoke out in support of the board’s proposal Wednesday night, saying the town needs to move beyond the current drama and implement a plan that would address MacFarland’s impending retirement while keeping town operations and development stable. These residents said the restructuring made sense as town development continues to grow.

“It all just makes sense to me,” said one resident during public hearing. “I couldn’t understand all the uproar that went on. I think maybe it’s just too simple a solution, but to me, it seems to work.”

A final public hearing will be held Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Glenville Municipal Center. Afterward, the board will vote on whether to adopt a local law that amends the town code and adds a new chapter establishing the full-time supervisor position. The law would take effect 45 days after passage unless a referendum is called, in which case it should be held as a special election no sooner than 60 days after the petition is submitted to the town clerk.

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