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Finance director retires; board to fill post

The Town of Hamburg hasn't had a finance director since Saturday.

In fact, it may never have one again.

With Jim Spute's retirement after 33 years with the town, the Town Board has reclassified his position -- and taken control of the appointment process.

As director of finance, Spute was an appointee of the town supervisor. But with the board creating a comptroller position in place of Spute's old job, the appointment will be made by board vote.

"We saw the strategy being proposed by a number of other larger towns like us," said Councilwoman Joan Kesner, "and it was an opportunity for us to streamline and make some up-to-date improvements in that office."

Kesner said the town will be updating its computers and combining the positions of chief financial officer and director of finance into one. Spute had held both offices.

Supervisor Steven J. Walters cast the only vote against the creation of the position during the town's organizational meeting Jan. 8.

"I have concerns if the decision is taken away from the supervisor that someone can be placed in that position who the supervisor is not as comfortable working with," said Walters, "whether it be me or someone else down the road."

The switch essentially would leave the comptroller working for the Town Board instead of working for the supervisor.

The comptroller will be picked by a search committee. Each member of the Town Board, including the supervisor, will be naming one member of the committee.

"The supervisor will have a say in the process," Kesner said.

Kesner said Spute's assistant, Bob Brown, has been asked to head the office on an interim basis and to consider applying for the job.

Spute, meanwhile, said he will be staying in the area, although he will be traveling to Florida to make up for a trip that was canceled when the October storm hit.

Spute has been a volunteer firefighter for 38 years, taught firefighters for 20 years and has been Hamburg's disaster coordinator for the past 25 years.

"I'm going to putter 'round the house," said. "I've got a list of things I've wanted to do for a while. Then, I don't know. I've got to keep busy."

The one thing he won't miss about the job?

"The politics," he said.


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