BATAVIA – In approving a city budget of $23.5 million for 2014-15 by a vote of 5-4, the City Council also has approved an appropriation of about $75,000 in salary and benefits for the new position of assistant city manager.

The position has been vacant since City Manager Jason R. Molino was hired more than 10 years ago, although Development Director Edward J. Flynn and Public Works Director Sally Kuzon each held the title briefly.

Putting the new post in the budget upset some Council members, who claimed it was not needed. Two of those who voted against the post – Councilmen Eugene A. Jankowski and John Deleo – have been especially critical of Molino’s hiring process and what they perceive as secrecy about the process.

The manager said members of the Council have known all along that department heads – including Fire, Police and Public Works – will help in the process. “It is the way we fill management positions,” Molino said Thursday, “getting input from department heads and others who can zero in on the best-qualified candidate. It’s nothing new,” he added.

Molino, according to the City Charter, has the authority to hire and fire personnel but can choose to open it for more input. “I chose department heads, and the Council members knew that,” he repeated.

He said an assistant is needed to relieve the manager from some time-consuming issues such as rising premiums for flood insurance for those who live near Tonawanda Creek.

One member of the City Council, Pierluigi Cipollone, has defended Molino’s choice of a panel “to get a variety of input so we choose the best candidate.”

He said he has no problem with the manner in which the issue is being handled.