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CONDE BID TO REORGANIZE PUBLIC WORKS TABLED

The Niagara County Civil Service Commission has tabled a proposal to complete the reorganization of upper management in the Department of Public Works.

The plan, pushed by Legislator Frank N. Conde, D-Niagara Falls, chairman of the Legislature's Public Works Committee and of the Refuse Disposal District Board, calls for reducing eight jobs to four, at a total savings in salary of $142,597.

The maneuver that was tabled would change Richard P. Pope's job title from administrative director of the county Refuse Disposal District to deputy commissioner of engineering/refuse.

The dual position, with Pope devoting about half his time to engineering responsibilities and half to operating the Refuse District, would pay $61,792 a year. Pope earns $48,671 as refuse district director only.

Human Resources Director Frank G. Caputo, who is also secretary of the Civil Service Commission, said the commissioners will revisit the issue at their next meeting Oct. 16.

He said they believe the new job should be held by someone with a professional engineer's license.

"I'm an engineer, but I don't have a PE's license," Pope said. Conde said Pope is working on obtaining that certificate, but it may take a year and a half to achieve.

Conde said Pope is perfect for the consolidated position. "He'll have one foot in the Refuse District, and one in engineering. . . . I need Rick at the dump, and I need him to use some of the engineering he's picked up. I think he's knowledgeable enough to do this job and do it well."

Pope said, "I would be honored to have the position. The public has made it clear that they like reorganization, they like consolidation, as long as service is not affected."

Conde added, "I've got a sneaking suspicion someone wants me to put a PE on, and I don't know why." Conde said the department has one professional engineer, and that's plenty, calling them "excess luggage."

He said if the department runs into more engineering work than its staff can handle, he prefers to "farm it out" to private engineers rather than increase county staff.

The three top jobs in Public Works are commissioner, held by Dorson Wilson at $66,697 a year, down from $77,928 in 1996; deputy commissioner for highways, held by Carl Allan at $53,042, down from $56,673; and deputy commissioner for buildings and grounds, held by Robin DeVoe at $43,127, up from $42,865.

Under the consolidation, three jobs would be abolished and one, an assistant civil engineer position, would be left vacant. The jobs to be abolished are deputy commissioner for engineering, whose previous occupant died; fleet manager, whose incumbent retired; and Pope's current refuse district job.

To replace the fleet manager position, Conde plans to ask that two mechanics become "working supervisors," which would raise their pay $1 an hour.

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