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WATER BOARD VOTES MANAGEMENT RAISES

Amid frustration by city and union leaders, the Niagara Falls Water Board voted Thursday to give its management pay raises.

The changes come on the heels of the board approving a 9.7 percent water and sewer rate hike last month. In approving the rate hikes, the board cited decreased consumption linked to industrial decline.

The pay increases amount to almost $22,000 and include a $5,000 raise for the new position of director of financial services.

That position was unnecessary because that job was being done by the city without Water Board reimbursement, Mayor Vincenzo Anello said.

But its creation was vital to the Water Authority, which separated from the city's management last year, said Gerry Grose, the Water Board's director of infrastructure operations, whose salary will jump 6.4 percent, to $77,000 from $72,339.

Richard Roll, director of technical and regulatory services, will receive $77,000 as well, up 7 percent from $65,378.

The highest raise, 11 percent, puts Bill Bolents, director of administrative services, at $70,000.

The salaries are now up to par with industry averages and reflect increased responsibility, said Brian Hurding, who is vice president of EMA Canada, a consulting firm hired by the Water Authority who recommended the move.

"You're taking away jobs!" union leaders yelled in the consultant's face as he left the meeting.

One of Hurding's plans to increase performance and save the authority money is to cut jobs from 137 to 77, although most of that would happen through retirements over the next few years, he said.

Also at the meeting, the board approved $7 million toward capital improvement projects.

One of the projects, a water main replacement on Third Street between Main and Niagara streets, was approved on the condition the city would pay the $23,000 cost of temporary road restoration.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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