LOCKPORT – The Common Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to abolish the job of Youth and Recreation Director Melissa I. Junke, while using not-for-profit organizations to provide some summer programming.
The city may replace Junke with a part-time youth coordinator assigned to some other department. “That’s a concept only,” Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said. “It needs to be discussed.”
Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said Junke earned $57,145 in 2013, including overtime and longevity payments.
Last November, when McCaffrey was Council president, she proposed abolishing Junke’s job, but the Council didn’t go along.
Since then, the Council learned that Junke had used former Mayor Michael W. Tucker’s city credit card to run up $9,080 in charges for organizing a golf tournament to augment her department’s budget. The expenses included air fare for six former pro football players and some of their girlfriends and wives.
The tournament was sponsored by Lock 34 Bar & Grille, a Lockport restaurant whose co-owner is Junke’s brother, Brian Junke.
In February, McCaffrey announced the Council was investigating someone’s credit card use. The Buffalo News reported that Junke was the target, based on sources not authorized to speak. City Treasurer Michael E. White then gave The News an on-the-record interview confirming the details of the case.
Junke has filed a notice of claim, threatening to sue the city for disclosing her name and for alleged defamation.
Wednesday’s resolution made no mention of the credit card case, instead reciting the recent history of the city’s financial woes as a reason for abolishing Junke’s job.
McCaffrey said, “We want to maintain the parks and the pool, but not on a full-time basis.”
The mayor said that with children in school nine months of the year, a 12-month position is not needed.
Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, disagreed and cast the only vote against the changes.
“I don’t think we should have a part-time Youth Department when 52 percent of the children (in the city) are living in poverty,” Schrader said.
He said he hasn’t seen any evidence in the past that not-for-profits are willing to help out, but Alderwoman Kathryn J. “Kitty” Fogle, R-3rd Ward, said the participation of the Lockport Public Library, the Palace Theatre and the YMCA is guaranteed.
Fogle said the YMCA is expected to take over the management of the Outwater Park swimming pool next year. This year the Y will train lifeguards.
On another matter, the Council voted 4-1 to grant Jordan Bork a special use permit to open an electronic cigarette store in the front portion of Hairport, a salon at 343 Walnut St.
Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, R-5th Ward, missed Wednesday’s meeting, but had not supported the request. However, even though the entire Council thought the store was in his ward, it turned out it was in Schrader’s ward. The boundary runs down the middle of Walnut Street. Alderman Ronald A. Franco, R-2nd Ward, voted no.