The Glen Cove City Council discussed three changes to the city charter this week, which would create new departments and several new non-union positions appointed by the mayor. The city council also passed resolutions for salary increases, a $10,000 claims payment and an emergency expenditure to the Glen Cove Senior Center.
Three changes to the city charter were discussed, and then tabled. They will be re-opened and voted on at the next city council meeting on April 14.
Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi has proposed that the charter be changed to create a new Code Enforcement Department, a new Personnel Department and make adjustments to the Building Department including the appointment by the mayor of a new director.
First, the mayor asserted the need for the code enforcement activities of Glen Cove to be separated from the Building Department and become independently run by a department accountable to and appointed by him. In his view, the Building Department is about things being built, taken down or modified. Code enforcement is about going after infractions that threaten public safety and need more authority behind them. The mayor said that a former law enforcement worker will be running code enforcement and the department will be linked to the police for better tracking of violations.
"We're trying to change the whole mentality, connecting the police," Mayor Suozzi said, adding that the laws in Glen Cove are for everybody and there will be, "No more threats and people ignoring the laws."
So, the pending resolution would create a separate Code Enforcement Department with its own head and a paid private investigator as well. With those responsibilities separated from the Building Department, changes will be made in that office with the creation of a Director of the Building Department position, filled by a person appointed by the mayor.
Finally, the mayor said there was a need to change Glen Cove's charter to now include a Personnel Office, with its own head. He said that in the 1980s and '90s Human Resources became an important function in government and Glen Cove would benefit from an administrator who could specialize in things like union issues, employee benefits, job postings, seasonal contracts, grievances and salaries.
During the public debate, issues were raised related to all three proposals. It was asked if the resolutions were made available or would be made available to the public before the vote. The resolutions were not formally written and disbursed as of the March 24 meeting.
A resident objected to creating a change in the charter for a Personnel Office, calling it unnecessary. Mayor Suozzi said that the salary for the person working as the personnel director already exists and this is an important change that the city should make.
It was then asked whether or not there was a conflict making the civil service secretary the personnel director. The mayor and personnel director said yes, and a new secretary would be hired. There is no timeframe yet for when the conflict would be resolved with this new hire. The hire would be roughly a $50,000 additional cost, with other possible costs including a new clerk and a benefits specialist.
When asked of other possible costs implicit in these resolutions, the mayor listed a building inspector at around $50-55,000 and software purchases. Additionally the person currently working as administrator of the Building Department will stay on temporarily as a consultant to assist the new director.
Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce President Gabor Karsai said that changes to the Building Department should be made to make the experience with that office less "user unfriendly." He said that the average wait time for questions to be answered and requested files found is too long.
The city council voted to adopt the 2009-10 Community Development Block Grant.
The council voted yes to a contract with Bowne Management Systems for a fee not to exceed $5,000 per month. It was asked if this is a renewal of a current contract. Mayor Suozzi replied that this is a new consulting fee created because a city employee retired suddenly and a consultant is needed to keep up important work. The CDA had been paying the employee but will not be paying the consultant because they will be doing work that the employee was not doing.
The council voted for the annual salary of Spiro Tsirkas to be raised from $55,000 to 56,000. It approved the raise in salary of John Vinezia from $68,000 to 70,000.
The city voted to authorize the lease and installation of a temporary steam boiler unit for the Glen Cove Senior Center from C&S Building Services for an amount not to exceed $11,000.
City Council members voted to pay a claim of $10,000 to Antonio Ortiz for an injury resulting from a pothole. The claimant was thrown from his motorcycle.
It was asked if the City of Glen Cove knows whether it ended 2008 in a deficit. The question was posed earlier this year and revisited, with an unexamined accusation estimating $1.2 million as the amount Glen Cove went over budget.
The response was that the city will not know how it financially ended in 2008 until a June audit.