Orchard Park violated Civil Service law when it terminated a code enforcement officer and hired a new one, the former officer claims.

David K. Jensen wants to get his job back with the town, which terminated his position as of Dec. 31. At its last meeting of the year in December, the former Town Board hired Thomas Minor as the new code enforcement officer.

Jensen’s attorney, Andrew Fleming, contacted the town late last year.

“I wrote a letter in December telling the town they should not replace Dave,” he said. “The letter I wrote indicated they violated Civil Service laws.”

Town officials maintain they acted appropriately, and followed the proper procedure.

“We followed Civil Service procedures,” Kaczor said the night Minor was hired. “The person we’re hiring has a tremendous amount of experience. He actually had his own company building residential homes. He also knows electrical work, plumbing work and all that.”

Jensen, who has worked part-time and full-time for the town since 2003, was given a full-time appointment in 2010, on the condition he pass the Civil Service exam.

But the exam was not given until this year. Jensen passed the exam, but Town Board members said Minor, who was in the construction business, scored the highest.

Jensen said he believes his problems with the town resulted from his work as president of the White Collar Unit, when he set up a meeting to try to interest non-union employees in being represented by the CSEA labor union in 2012. His position was cut to part-time in the 2013 budget, which meant he could not longer be represented by the union.

Midway through the year, Jensen’s hours were increased to 40 hours, but he did not receive benefits. The town also hired a part-time code enforcement officer last year.

Resident Barbara Little objected when Jensen’s hours were cut, and at several times throughout the past year, arguing that Jensen performs mandated and necessary fire inspections. Board members said any certified code enforcement officer can perform fire inspections.

“I told you after the police department, the next most important place in this town for safety was the code enforcement office,” Little told the Town Board in December.

Jensen picked up the support of two other residents who regularly attend Town Board meetings, and they chided the former board earlier this month. Two members of the old board, Supervisor Janis Colarusso and Councilman David Kaczor, left office at the end of the year.

Kathryn Gorkiewicz of Melberry Trail said she felt a little awkward commenting to the new board about the previous board’s actions, but she felt compelled to speak.

“The manner in which a previous code enforcement officer had his position changed and eventually terminated was shameful,” she said. “As far as I’m aware, the quality of his work was never an issue.”

Another regular said the action “is abhorrent and unbecoming town government.”

email: bobrien@buffnews.com

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