City Council members met with two department heads appearing under subpoena Thursday, but at the end of the 90-minute session said they were still frustrated in their quest for information about the mayor's plan to avoid a downgrading of the city's bond rating.
Council members said they would request a meeting next week with Mayor Jacob A. Palillo and City Administrator Thomas C. Lizardo in an effort to get more specific information. Palillo was announcing his candidacy for a second term in the next room as the Council met with Parks Director John D. Palillo, the mayor's twin brother, and David Hughes, the acting public works chief.
Council Chairman John G. Accardo and Councilwoman Barbara A. Geracitano said the department heads could not answer specific questions about the mayor's financial plan, which includes some layoffs, consolidations, creation of new positions and some new revenues. Accardo said the Council got a lot of rhetoric, not a lot of specifics. Councilman Andrew M. Walker said the Council should meet with the mayor and city administrator to get the rationale for upgrading some employees while laying off others and for the whole proposal.
"We don't want to do anything in the dark," he said.
Under questioning by the City Council about positions in his department which would be upgraded under the mayor's plan, John D. Palillo said a combined $6,000 in salary increases was being proposed for two employees who would take on added responsibilities if the Parks Department were combined with recreation as the mayor proposed. John D. Palillo said he recommended the higher salaries because the two employees would be taking on extra duties administering recreation programs.
However, he could not say where in the budget the money for the additional salaries would come from.
Council members questioned whether any employees should be getting pay raises, when the city is contemplating laying off workers.
Councilman Ralph F. Aversa said the city should impose a 5 percent across-the-board pay cut, for everyone including Council members, and a 10 percent spending decrease. The two combined would save the city about $3 million, Aversa said.
Accardo said that may be an avenue the Council has to explore, but most salaries must be negotiated with unions. He said that would take a year and the city has to act now. Aversa said a pay cut could be negotiated now.