Last week’s Lloyd Town Board meeting went along smoothly until it hit a snag on a resolution to appoint a new part-time typist for the Water and Sewer Department, run by Administrator Adam Litman. With Councilwoman Claire Winslow absent, the tie vote of 2-2 failed to pass the measure; Councilmen Joe Mazzetti and Mike Guerriero voted yes for the part time hire while Supervisor Paul Hansut and Councilman Lenny Auchmoody voted no.
Auchmoody pointed out that money was set aside in this year’s budget to move the position from part-time to full-time. He said long-time Water/Sewer Department employee Christine Giangrasso, “felt that she didn’t want to be laid off, so she resigned.” He said the resolution that was on the agenda was to replace her with a part-time person, saying this was not only unfair to Giangrasso but the afternoon phone calls to the Water Department would be routed to the Building Department, which would certainly add additional work for them.
Mazzetti said he was “confused” by Auchmoody’s comments because the position has been part-time for seven years. The resolution called for a replacement to work the same part-time hours and the board could expand the hours if and when that was needed, “but right now if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Supervisor Hansut acknowledged that for years the job was part time, but added that Administrator Litman often has had people fill in during the afternoons, ultimately making it a near full time position. If the position were to move to full time, the Town Board must adhere to Civil Service requirements.
After the 2-2 tie, Mazzetti directed his comments to Hansut and Auchmoody.
“So we’re not going to hire someone and punish them and not give the Water Department a secretary after you just said the Building Department can’t handle it when you could have had a secretary start tomorrow; you’re hurting a person over nonsense….really nice guys, I’m embarrassed for the two of you.”
Auchmoody countered that assertion, noting that Mazzetti really wanted a part time person for the position all along.
“You don’t need to be embarrassed; you need to be living up to what we vote on; we voted on a full time position and at that time we should have gotten a full time position,” he said.
Auchmoody’s comment is incorrect; the Town Board only approved to have money for a full time position in the budget but did not formally vote to establish it.
Supervisor Hansut said for several years the Town Board has talked about making it a full time position, mostly because water bills needed more attention and phone calls kept coming into the Water and Sewer Department after the secretary left. He said after Giangrasso resigned, some board members then decided that a full time person was not needed at the department.
“It is my opinion and others opinion around the town, it is a full time position,” Hansut said.
Hansut said when Giangrasso was first hired he informed her that one day the job might become a full time position, which would require her to pass a Civil Service test and be reachable on their list (top three).
Hansut said when Mazzetti voted for the budget he was also approving funding for a full time position at the Water and Sewer Department.
In a phone interview Giangrasso said she got the part time secretary job in October 2012, handling billing of the water accounts, scheduling appointments for upgrades, answering phone complaints and ensuring that the department’s employees met all of the required certifications.
Giangrasso said she took the Civil Service Senior Clerk test in April 2013 but failed. She continued working in her position but found herself putting in more hours than part time in order to get all of the work done. She said this was due in part to the complexity of her department’s computer program and the lack of funding for an instructor to assist her.
Giangrasso said Supervisor Hansut continued to pressure her to take the Civil Service test again. The second time around she studied with a tutor and passed it with a grade of 70%. This did not get her into the top tier of the Civil Service list where candidates are chosen first to interview for job openings. Giangrasso again met with Hansut who told her that since her score was low, there were other candidates who would want the job if it were made full time. She said Hansut informed her that to keep her job the town would have to keep it as a part time position.
All of this led to her resignation in March but after last week’s failure to hire a person for the department, Giangrasso submitted a letter to the Town Board requesting to be re-appointed to her old part time position.
Hansut said it now appears the board wants to keep it part time.
“It’s getting very, very frustrating to govern the town and move things forward when you just can’t seem to agree on anything,” he said.
Hansut revealed that in an executive session in mid March, which included Litman, the board again discussed a full time position but failed to reach any agreement.
Hansut said most every full time hire by the town is done by first identifying what job they need to fill and then having Civil Service check their list starting with the top candidates. They then inform the town of any eligible and interested candidates who could then be interviewed for a particular position.
Hansut denied that this push for full time was being done to allow his own secretary, Kate Jonietz, to get the job after he leaves office in January. He said this rumor was particularly hurtful to Jonietz, pointing out the impossibility of him having such sway over the process.
“The Town Board would have had to approve her being put in that position; I couldn’t do it on my own,” he said.
Hansut explained the need for a full time position to the [CSEA] union, who supported it... “and I don’t think they’re real happy now that we’re going backwards...I’m just trying to move this town forward.”
It appears that a resolution will be on the next Town Board’s agenda to hire Giangrasso part time at the Water and Sewer Department.