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Marilla board makes changes

New year, new direction. Supervisor George Gertz delivered that message Thursday during the organizational meeting of the Marilla Town Board.

"We have hired a different town attorney, Joel Kurtzhalts of Bennett, DiFilippo & Kurtzhalts, for our daily business and litigation, and Berkowitz Associates for assessment litigation," Gertz said.

Gertz also appointed Donald Darrow, a councilman with one year of experience on the Town Board, as his deputy supervisor. He succeeds Warren Handley, who had held the job for three years.

Not everyone was enthralled with Gertz's new direction.

Elizabeth Ackerman, also a council member with a year on the board, criticized Darrow's appointment as deputy supervisor because of "his lack of experience."

Darrow defended it.

"I understand why some Town Board members think I am not experienced, and they are right," he said. "But I am retired and have plenty of time to learn. I can attend meetings in the daytime that Gertz cannot always get to. My heart is in the right place. If I cannot handle the job, I will be happy to back out."

Other changes include a shake-up of committee appointments and soliciting new bids for such items as health insurance to save money.

"The engineering firm and town attorney have been paid on an hourly basis," Gertz said. "But that is changing now. You will notice that there will be nights neither will be here. They will be here only on an as-needed basis. There is no sense in paying them to sit here and say, 'no report.' "

Gertz delivered a thumbs-up on town finances, which, he said, reflect a "healthy surplus."

Salaries for the new year, increased by 3 percent, are as follows:

Supervisor, $31,400; four councilman, $8,964 each; chairman of the Board of Assessors, $18,000; town clerk, $44,772; highway superintendent, $54,028; sanitation superintendent, $7,436; park superintendent, $2,002; two town justices, $13,200 each; building inspector, $16,260; deputy building inspector, $7,056; senior citizen recreation attendant, $1,608; town historian, $1,560; and registrar, flat fee of $900.

With the exception of town clerk and highway superintendent, the jobs are part time.