It's back to a full time job again for the City Clerk position.
Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday to return it to a full-time status of 35 hours per week, leaving no more free afternoons from the job for Lacey Lawrence. Lawrence will be kept plenty busy, according to Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, who said he was looking to make two changes in City Hall operations.
"The first thing being the clerk's office to act as the central hub of all record keeping, the goal is to have scanned copies of all contracts, documents, bids, you name it. Every department needs to provide the clerk's office with those or the clerk's office will make the copy themselves," Dolce explained before and during the council meeting. "There needs to be a scanned and filed data base so when we have instances like we had the past couple months with the state auditor looking for a ton of information, that information wasn't readily available. To me, I find that embarrassing as a city that we can't just say, 'here you go, this is what you need."
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Common Council approved making the City Clerk position full time during its meeting Tuesday. Pictured at the table are council members Michael Michalski (left), Adelino Gonzalez (right) and Stephanie Kiyak (above) enjoying a laugh during Second Ward Councilman William Rivera’s report time while typist Grace Tarnowski (above) takes meeting notes.
Dolce said the second item had been started before, but it was time to complete the change to one purchasing agent for City Hall needs.
"To me, if you have just one individual handling it there should be a cost-savings to the taxpayers, because it's one person handling it all," he said. "One person, you buy in larger amounts. That leads to cost savings."
The mayor added it was his goal to make the position full time for 2013, but with one department employee eligible for retirement, Dolce said he thought it was time to make the move and not wait until Jan. 1.
Another reason for passing Resolution 58-2012 was the city's meetings with various auditors and HUD representatives.
"To spare you all the details, I can say simply say the news is not encouraging. They are less than thrilled with our record-keeping practices and HUD, especially, would like to see changes instituted soon, very short time frame," Dolce told council during his report time. "Point being, I'm not going to sit here and dwell on the past, what was done, what wasn't done. It is our responsibility, myself, my administration, department heads, to correct those cases and make sure we're going forward in the right path.
"So I can simply say the news is not good."
Prior to the vote, council members had their say on the issue.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala wanted to state her reasons for a yes vote so people "truly understand that this is just not going along party lines and hiring somebody because we want to spend money." She added that the part-time effort was done to save money, but things were not getting done in a "timely fashion."
Szukala added that if both office regulars are out, Lawrence is there alone.
"At this time, Lacey Lawrence is not quite familiar with a lot of aspects of the office," Szukala said. "We felt it was necessary to get the time to train her so that things are done properly."
After citing the clerk's responsibilities, she added she supports cross training employees.
"Take people from other departments and train them so can possibly consolidate offices and things in the future, which is also throwing the unions in the mix," Szukala stated. "We're also discussing ways to save money, but we need to move forward with having someone who is knowledgeable in that office. We need to make sure it's properly staffed."
Second Ward Councilman William Rivera said approving the change is the right thing.
"I just want to make sure the city residents know we are being completely fiscally responsible in terms of this hiring," he stated. "We are going in terms of the union and everything they need, we are going to make sure this is done in the ways that make sure they get everything they need as well."
Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak cited research she has done which supports the change back to full time.
"While the title of 'clerk' implies one who works at a sales or service counter, in the case of the City Clerk, it is actually an official responsible for correspondence, records and accounts, and is vested with specified powers or authority," she explained. "I would also add 'office manager' as additional duties required in this position.
"It is imperative that the clerk's office be run efficiently, with real attention to detail, if we are to maintain a transparent government that is in full compliance with FOIL laws. If we are to save money on City Hall staff, this is not the area to do so."
The change takes effect on Thursday.
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