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JACCARINO SEEKS CONTROL OVER SPENDING N. TONAWANDA ALDERMAN TARGETS USE OF TAX MONEY

Alderman Thomas M. Jaccarino says he will propose two measures to the North Tonawanda Common Council designed to tighten city control over the use of tax money.

Jaccarino, a 5th Ward Democrat, said one proposal would consolidate employee records, now the responsibility of several department heads, to one person. The other would provide the mayor with veto power over the hiring of new employees, adding a layer of approval to the current hiring process and subjecting it to more taxpayer scrutiny.

Jaccarino said he believes that taxpayers "don't object so much to paying taxes as they do to wasting their money."

Under Jaccarino's proposals, the deputy city clerk would be given the responsibility of checking on possible abuses of sick time and disability leave by city employees.

Personnel records from all city departments would be consolidated under the deputy who would "act as, but not be given the title of, personnel director," Jaccarino said.

"We've needed this for a long time," he said. "The voters have spoken. Taxpayers want waste of their money stopped. They deserve it. We officials have to tighten our belts."

While department heads would still be held responsible for excessive absenteeism or abuses in their departments, they no longer would be burdened with keeping the records.

The records would be transferred to the deputy clerk who could keep a closer track on absences, and in cases of suspected abuse, follow up by personally contacting the employee, medical personnel and insurance companies, Jaccarino said.

Jaccarino does not envision increasing the deputy's salary for the added responsibilities.

The measure also would avoid the expense of hiring a city personnel director, he said.

He added that he does not believe there is widespread abuse of sick time and compensation or disability claims among the city's 350 full-time employees, "but there may be some" and it costs the city money.

Personnel costs -- wages and fringe benefits -- account for 62 percent of the city budget, according to City Accountant David R. Jakubaszek.

City wages total $14 million this year, of which fringe benefits amount to $4.6 million, he said.

Jaccarino's other proposal would require aldermen to submit for Council approval a preliminary resolution of intent to hire a new employee.

The mayor would be permitted to veto the hiring if he or she considered it unnecessary.

At the next regular Council meeting following the introduction of the resolution of intent, the Council could, by a majority vote of at least 3-2, actually hire a new employee, if there has been no mayoral veto.

If there has been a veto, the Council could override it, but that would require a 4-1 vote instead of a simple majority, according to Jaccarino's plan.

Involvement of the mayor would delay the hiring process by one meeting, thereby providing the public with a better opportunity to voice its opinion, Jaccarino said.

Currently, the hiring of a new employee can be done at one Council meeting by introduction and approval of a resolution by a 3-2 vote.

The mayor currently has no veto power over hiring. That's the Council's responsibility.

The practice can catch the taxpayers by surprise because they have little advance notice of the intended action.

Jaccarino hopes to have Council approval of his two measures by next month.

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