LOCKPORT – It took City Treasurer Sue A. Mawhiney only one day on the job to confirm that her office is understaffed.
The newly seated Common Council is expected to vote Wednesday to add a $28,448-a-year account clerk position to the budget to help process tax and water bill payments at the Treasurer’s Office.
Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey recommended the new job to the Council at a work session Tuesday, and the aldermen reached a consensus in favor of the hiring.
The job is to be filled as of Feb. 1, with the three clerks the city laid off in October 2014 having first crack at the post. “We said as the city’s financial picture improved, we would look at bringing back some of those people,” the mayor said.
She said the hiring also would settle a grievance filed two months ago by the Civil Service Employees Association over the treasurer doing a clerk’s work by taking payments at the front window.
McCaffrey said all of them were in higher-paying job grades at the time, but the city isn’t required to bring them back at their old salary.
If all three reject the offer, the job will be posted.
Mawhiney said her staff comprises a deputy treasurer and a clerk, and it’s not enough. “I just know the volume of the people coming to the office is great,” she said.
McCaffrey said the total cost of the job, including benefits, will be about $54,000. About $33,000 will be shifted from the budget for legal consulting to pay most of the cost; Finance Director Scott A. Schrader said the health insurance cost is already in the budget.
Mawhiney, a Democrat, defeated Republican Michael E. White in the November election.
Also Tuesday, the Council decided to begin holding its business meetings at 6:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., effective Jan. 20. Work sessions will begin at 5:30 instead of 5, and committee meetings at 4:15 instead of 4.
Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward, suggested the change to make it easier for the public to attend meetings.
“It gives the general public more of a chance to come here and listen,” said Alderman R. Joseph O’Shaughnessy, D-at large.
“Let’s try it and see how it goes. We can always change it back,” said Alderman Mark S. Devine, R-3rd Ward.
McCaffrey said no constituent ever has asked her for a change in meeting times. She said on one occasion when a March meeting was held at 7 p.m. instead of 6, one elderly woman complained about having to drive home in the dark.
The Council also agreed to O’Shaughnessy’s suggestion to create a new committee to meet with department heads about their concerns, with the meetings to be in the department offices.
Otherwise, said O’Shaughnessy, “I don’t think it’s a whole comfort level … If we can get the department heads to trust in us, at the end of the day, we’re going to have a pretty good Council and a pretty good city.”
“I think it’s more of an open committee,” said Alderman Richard E. Abbott, D-5th Ward. “We know it’s going to be, ‘I don’t have enough help.’ That’s the common theme.”