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After brief debate, Town of Amherst hires strategic planning director

The Town of Amherst hired a new director of strategic planning Tuesday night – over the objections of one Town Board member and a town Republican committee member.

The Town Board voted, 4-1, to appoint Maggie Hamilton Winship to the job that will pay $75,092 per year, with the Village of Williamsville expected to cover $15,000 of her salary in a shared-services agreement between the two governments.

Winship was hired as the village's director of community development when Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa was the Village of Williamsville's mayor.

Kulpa said Winship will focus on economic development and redevelopment in her new post.

"I'm looking forward to sharing services with the village. I'm looking forward to creating savings for both the town and the village with this hire," Kulpa said at Tuesday's meeting. "And I'm looking forward to having a very talented person join us."

Maggie Hamilton Winship (Photo courtesy Maggie Winship)

Mark Rivard, the GOP committeeman, said the hiring of Winship and, previously, Joe McMahon, the supervisor's new chief of staff, show that Kulpa intends to be a "part-time supervisor."

"Why don't we start thinking about how much this is costing the taxpayers," said Rivard, who Tuesday compared Kulpa unfavorably to his Republican predecessor, Barry A. Weinstein. He called on the Democratic supervisor to resign.

One audience member yelled at Rivard to sit down. Another, Adrienne Kotler, a former deputy town clerk, shouted that Weinstein was the true part-time supervisor. Weinstein continued to practice medicine for a time after taking office.

"I have been full time. I'm going to be full time," Kulpa said.

Board member Deborah Bruch Bucki cast the only no vote – saying she supported the idea of shared services but thought the town should have conducted a search before selecting Winship.

Winship is joining the town's Planning Department, which will have a new director with the retirement of Eric Gillert after 18 years in the job.

Amherst, Williamsville plan to share economic development employee

Daniel Howard, the town's assistant planner, was appointed Tuesday to replace Gillert at a salary of $102,250.

Ellen Kost, an associate planner with the town, was promoted by the Town Board to replace Howard, at a salary of $86,130.

Winship fills the opening left by Gillert's retirement, although she will not have traditional planning duties in the department.

She would continue to work for the village one day per week, under the shared-services agreement that still must be approved by the town and village.

Winship, who lives in Buffalo, got a six-month waiver from the town's residency requirement. Winship said last week that she and her husband are looking for a home in Amherst.

Winship's appointment is effective Wednesday. Howard's and Kost's promotions are effective Saturday.

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