Robb M. Poloncarz, a former chef, was hired by the Water Authority to fill a vacant position of contract monitor at a starting salary of $55,132, the authority’s personnel director confirmed Wednesday.
No civil service exam has been given for the position yet, and the authority did not advertise for the opening.
Instead, Robb Poloncarz was chosen from a pool of general applications the Water Authority had on file, and will remain in a provisional status until a competitive test is given, said Matthew J. Baudo, authority secretary and personnel director.
“If we have a need and we have an application on file that fits, then we have the ability to put somebody to work,” Baudo said. “And in this case, we had an application. We had the need. We had the position, and Robb Poloncarz’s qualifications fit that.”
Baudo said the Water Authority typically does not advertise for competitive civil service positions because candidates must be chosen through the state-required exam process. Because no civil service exam has been held for this position in recent years, the authority could appoint somebody who met the qualifications for the job temporarily, Baudo said.
Erie County Civil Service must request within 30 days that the state set a date for the test.
“Robb will have to take the exam like everyone else,” Baudo said. “If he’s in the top three, he can be appointed with permanent status. If not, he would have to be removed from the position and one of the top three candidates would have to be put into that position.”
The Water Authority, an independent agency whose commissioners are appointed by the County Legislature, has been criticized for years for the number of politically connected people who are on its payroll.
Peter Anderson, a spokesman for Mark Poloncarz, said the county executive had no role in who was selected for the job. He does not oversee the Water Authority.
“These are not jobs that are controlled by the county,” said Anderson, adding that Robb Poloncarz “did meet the qualifications for the job and he was hired based on his merits.”
Minimum qualifications for the position of contract monitor are a four-year bachelor’s degree, three years of business experience, two of which must involve contract and purchasing activities in a large governmental agency or a commercial organization, Baudo said. The application from Robb Poloncarz was the only one on file that met those requirements, Baudo said.
The News has previously reported that Robb Poloncarz worked as a chef at Wegmans Food Markets, and he has listed that occupation on the social networking website LinkedIn.
The job of contract monitor, which Baudo said has been vacant for some time, has a range of responsibilities, including monitoring contracts, analyzing current market conditions and changing regulatory processes affecting the industry, monitoring the progress of projects to ensure compliance with regulations and contract provisions and consulting with department heads on acquisition of property and the letting of contracts, among other duties.
“They would take a contract and see what is required by the service provider to make sure that we’re getting the services that we’re supposed to be getting for what we’re paying for,” Baudo said.
Baudo said the Water Authority has no indication of when the state would set a date for a civil service exam for the job. Once it is given, the state would generate a list with the candidates who received the top three scores, and the Water Authority must fill the job from that list.
That exam would be advertised on the Erie County Civil Service website once it has been scheduled.
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