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Public hearing set regarding background checks

Public hearing set regarding background checks

Council also OKs contract for 126 city employees
Public hearing set regarding background checks
City Hall in downtown Schenectady at sunset in November 2016.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

The City Council will host a public hearing regarding criminal background check on prospective city employees on Feb. 22.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution setting the public hearing during their regular meeting on Monday. The proposed local law that would require fingerprinting and criminal background checks of potential city employees.

The council also unanimously approved a contract for 126 city employees who will get 2-percent raises in each of four years. Councilman John Mootooveren was not present on Monday.

Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said on Monday the local law was similar to the resolution passed in September. It would apply to all positions within the city, but fingerprinting would only be administered to candidates the city plans on offering jobs to.

Even though the city passed the resolution last fall, Falotico said the state asked them to go through the more formal process of creating a local law for it. This would allow for the city to access the state’s fingerprint database.

Falotico again said this was “something on our radar.”

It comes after two city employees were found to have previously undisclosed criminal histories last year.

One of those employees was former code inspector Kenneth Tyree, who currently faces manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges in relation to the fatal 2015 Jay Street fire.

Tyree was fired after being accused of lying on his 2013 job application by not including two felony convictions, including one from December 1985 for a phony check scheme, and one in 1980 for burglarizing a Clifton Park Home.

Matthew Clark, a former city Waste Department employee, was fired in July after it was discovered he was a registered sex offender.

Falotico said the background checks are simply meant to make sure employees are honest in their job applications.

“[The background checks] are not meant to be punitive toward anyone,” Falotico said. “We’re making sure people honestly disclose what happened in their past. Then we will make a decision on a case by case basis.”

The council also on Monday approved the contract for the Local 1037A union members who worked for the city.

The contract gives employees, who make between $17 to $21 an hour, a 2-percent raise for each of the four years covered by the contract, including a retroactive 2-percent raise for 2017. It also includes an additional $2 an hour for the months of December through March for Waste Department employees for working in cold temperatures.

The contract will be paid for through the city’s reserve fund balance.

Independent Councilman Vince Riggi praised the city employees for their hard work and said the raise was well deserved, adding he voted against the $85.2 million city budget for 2018. He did this because discretionary raises were given to supervisors, while city employees got nothing.

“The workers are out there busting their humps all of the time for the citizens of Schenectady,” Riggi said. “We have to appreciate all of their efforts.”

Councilman John Polimeni, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said city employees “work very hard” and the said contract gave them “a nice raise.”

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