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Supervisor Syed appoints 3 to fill positions in Niskayuna

Supervisor Syed appoints 3 to fill positions in Niskayuna

Salary discussion for one of the appointees was tabled
Supervisor Syed appoints 3 to fill positions in Niskayuna
Niskayuna Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

NISKAYUNA — Supervisor Yasmine Syed appointed three people to fill posts in Niskayuna Town Hall at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

Syed named Stan Fiminski as Deputy Supervisor, a role previously held by Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw. Fiminsky served as a Niskayuna police officer for 31 years and retired in 2013 as deputy chief. 

Andrew Bigness was appointed confidential secretary. He previously served as a legislative analyst for the state Assembly. He will perform duties previously undertaken by David Fronk, who served under then-Supervisor Joe Landry for the past six months and resigned in December.

Syed also appointed Jay Nish as a bookkeeper. Nish will primarily serve as a financial and budgetary analyst. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Sage Graduate College and has worked in both business and government.

Community members, employees, appointees and their families nearly filled the Town Board room as Syed called the meeting to order. 

On the agenda were some reappointments to town positions, as well as the swearing in of the newest Niskayuna police officer, Thomas Lucey.

The final resolution, which called for approval of Bigness’ and Nish’s salaries, encountered some resistance.

Board members praised the past and ongoing work of reappointed employees: town attorney Robert Hess; deputy town attorneys Paul Briggs and Alaina Finan; comptroller Paul Sebesta and highway superintendent Ray Smith. All were unanimously approved to continue their service.

But on the matter of Bigness and Nish, Syed noted that the titles were somewhat antiquated and that the confidential secretary, Bigness, would perform duties similar to those previously performed by Fronk. Fronk held the title of Director of Administrative Operations at a salary of $70,088. 

Prior to Fronk's tenure, Nicole Salamone served the supervisor under a variety of titles. At the time of her departure to become the county’s commissioner of jurors in June 2017, Salamone was director of administration and earned a salary of $62,950.

The resolution called for Bigness to earn $59,968.

Board members were most hesitant to approve the bookkeeper’s salary of $40,219. John Della Ratta noted that the town has four bookkeepers, including comptroller Sebesta, and said he felt that an additional bookkeeper was unnecessary.

Syed responded that she had worked with Sebesta to define the role and duties of an additional bookkeeper, and that those duties would include performing detailed and regular financial and budgetary analysis, while also taking over the buy-a-brick program for the new veterans’ memorial. 

Board member Lisa Weber asked how the two positions would be funded. In December, the board approved a $70,088 salary for personnel in the supervisor’s office. The combined cost of a confidential secretary and bookkeeper would be $100,187, an overrun of $30,099.

Syed said the overage would be paid from the town's contingency fund, which has a balance of around $150,000. She added that Nish’s aptitude for the job would result in his essentially “paying for himself.”

Board member Bill McPartlon said he was concerned about adding more salary spending than was budgeted.

Syed responded that the concern was valid and reiterated Nish’s anticipated value to the town.

Murphy McGraw noted that the discussion and opposition was not about Syed’s authority to appoint a bookkeeper — which by law she is allowed to do — or Nish’s ability to do the job. 

In the end, the board and Syed voted to approve Bigness’ salary but not Nish’s. Syed and the board agreed to continue negotiation of the issue of Nish’s pay at a later time.

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