BATAVIA – The city’s 2014-15 budget calls for restoring the post of assistant city manager. Or maybe the post already was filled several years ago. That is a question facing the City Council as it prepares to vote on the new spending plan.
The issue is in dispute between City Manager Jason R. Molino and some Council members.
Molino contends that there has been no assistant since he was promoted in 2006. City records show that Sally Kuzon was named an assistant to the manager in 2008 and until recently used the title above her signature.
She is now listed in the city directory as “director public works,” whose duties she has been doing for the past six years.
Molino himself was hired as assistant city manager and served four months before being appointed manager. He had an assistant in Edward M. Flynn, who served as community development director. Flynn was later dismissed in a cost-cutting move when the city was facing a seven-figure operating deficit.
It appears that the city will not have two assistants to the city manager. Maybe not even one if enough Council members balk at the expense. But who was what when may never be resolved.
The assistant would earn $77,000.
The $23.5 million budget also contains two initiatives designed, in Molino’s words, as economic development issues: setting up Wi-Fi spots and installing an electric car-charging station downtown.
Wi-Fi will meet increasing demands for social media opportunities. Charging electric cars – auto dealers estimate there are possibly 25 in Genesee County – may be an attraction for visitors with battery-operated cars traveling by the city’s Thruway Interchange.
Three departments – police, fire and public works – consume half the year’s spending. Public works is scheduled for an added $1 million for overdue street resurfacing and sidewalk installations.
A major benefit for residents in the city’s flood zone, a southside area bordering Tonawanda Creek, would be initiatives to reduce flood insurance. Rates are expected to rise at least 25 percent in the next few years. A rating lower than the current 10 would result in significant savings for flood zone property owners. Some say they are paying more in premiums than city property taxes.
The Council will meet Tuesday to review the spending plan. The budget must be adopted by April 1, start of the city’s fiscal year.