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PUBLIC WORKS CHIEF DECIDES NOT TO QUIT; RESTRUCTURING STUDIED

Mayor Robert Kesicki has rescinded the resignation of Randy Woodbury as director of public works.

Woodbury resigned Monday to take a position of water plant operator trainee; he changed his mind on Friday.

"I am happy to remain part of the Kesicki administration and continue to work with the five councilpeople (with whom) I enjoy a professional relationship. We are all very optimistic for the city," Woodbury said Friday.

Kesicki added that he would be looking at the department's structure, saying that he would like to get some help for the director.

Woodbury added that the position of assistant director of public works exists within the management union, United Steelworkers of American, Local 2693COD. This position is not funded for 1999, but if an appointment is made from within the department, the funds will be transferred from that position.

Other ideas being considered include a round-the-clock phone center for all public works calls, Kesicki told The Buffalo News. People now need to call the police department, which is the only city department with phones that are answered at all times.

The position at the water plant became vacant due to a retirement. Kesicki said it will be filled.

In another public works area, the city is discussing the possibility of having the American-Anglian Co. manage the wastewater treatment plant in Wright Park. The city would continue to own the facility, according to Kesicki.

Preliminary talks have been held with the two unions involved -- Local 912 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and USWA Local 2693COD, which represents two management employees.

The plant has 20 funded positions, according to John Gaasch, chief operator. Of those, 18 are in Local 912; one person is on disability and one position is currently vacant.

Kesicki said the company proposes running the plant with 13 people. Local 912 has a no-cut clause in its contract, which means the city would need to find positions for any displaced employees.

The city's general fund subsidizes the debt service for the wastewater treatment fund, which was $891,000 this year. This would continue, Kesicki said, if American-Anglian managed the facility.

The company proposes to cut operating costs by $500,000 from $2.2 million to $1.7 million. Also, about $200,000 is taken from wastewater revenues for administration costs, including billing and other costs.

"Everything is verbal at this point," Gaasch said Friday.

A meeting between the company and the city is scheduled for Feb. 8, according to the mayor. Any contract would need to be approved by the Common Council.

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