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City employee won't get waiver on residency

A Public Works employee will not receive a waiver of the city's residency requirement.

Behind closed doors, the issue was debated in committee for more than an hour Tuesday night as aldermen sought input from employees, the city attorney, the current mayor and the mayor-elect.

The waiver died in the Committee of the Whole.

The new administration now must decide how to handle the residency problem of city garage mechanic Mark Donahue, who declined to discuss his dilemma after the meeting.

Donahue has worked for the city's Public Works Department for more than a decade and is considered an "exemplary employee," according to officials.

He moved out of the city, to Portville, in 1999, on the assumption that he had been granted a waiver.

The issue became a problem for Mayor William Quinlan about six months ago after another employee complained about Donahue living outside the city.

Quinlan said union officials back Donahue's right to remain in his Portville home because he has been receiving checks at that address for several years.

Common Council President Ray Wangelin, who said the problem should have been addressed by the previous administration, believes the city should live up to its residency requirement.

"Sometimes you have got to take a stand," he said.

Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Melfi, who said she wants employees to live in the city, voted for the waiver, citing legal costs to the city that have surpassed $10,000 in this case.

Ward 6 Alderman Rick Smith, who supported the waiver, asked the city auditor to report regularly on the financial consequences of not granting the waiver.

The vote for the waiver was 3-2. Four votes would have been required to approve it -- a majority of the seven-member committee.

Besides Wangelin, who is Ward 1 Alderman, Glenn Van Dixon also voted "no." Ward 5 Alderwoman Jane Northrup, who resigned her seat to work in the next term as the secretary for Mayor-elect David Carucci, did not attend the session. Ward 4 Alderman Robert Sader, who failed in his bid for re-election, was also absent for the final meeting of the year.

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