Although the Common Council agrees that Samuel F. Iraci Jr. is a good choice to be the mayor's administrative assistant, it has some issues to reconcile before he would join the team.
The Council met with Iraci during Wednesday night's workshop meeting and had an opportunity to ask questions. The position would be part time at an annual salary of $45,000.
Mayor Lawrence V. Soos announced that Iraci was his pick for the position last week, and he is waiting for the Council to approve the transfer of funds for the position and a waiver of the residency requirement.
"You're getting a Cadillac for the price of a Ford," said Soos. "This guy is a class act."
Iraci, 56, retired last December as city manager of Elmira, a position he had held since 1994.
He also had served as deputy mayor/executive assistant to then-Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin from 1986 to 1992. He was also a finalist for the position of Niagara County manager in 2002.
One of the issues brought up during Wednesday's meeting concerned how much work Iraci would do, since the position is only part time.
"I'm just afraid that we're kind of shortchanging North Tonawanda," said 1st Ward Alderman Phillip Rizzo. "He was very impressive. He was definitely able to do the job. I'm just not sure that Larry will give him [the work that] I think should be done, because we have done absolutely nothing in three months. He can tell you how busy he is. A lot of people are busy and not getting anything done."
Council President Brett M. Sommer also has an issue with the position being part time. "He is an impressive candidate. He is somebody, in my mind, who reinforces that we need someone like him full time," he said. "I was a little surprised that the mayor didn't put it out to a nationwide search. I had spoken with the mayor, back in January, about working with the Council to find the best person possible. I believe that this position is so important to the city. It's the person who's going to run the day-to-day operations of the city."
Iraci said the 20 hours a week he will spend on the job will be productive. "I'm at the point in my life where I don't need to waste anyone's time and money," he said. "I don't need to do that to myself. I think I could get things done in the areas of working with Jim Sullivan [director of the city's community development department]. I think the time that I spend here will be very productive."
Another concern was the residency requirement, since Iraci lives in Buffalo.
"I'm getting an outcry from residents about the residency," said 3rd Ward Alderwoman Nancy Donovan. "The man is very nice, no doubt about it. It has always been a mayor and a full-time assistant. In my perfect world, I'd like to see a full-time assistant that's a resident and qualified."
Alderwoman-at-large Catherine G. Schwandt brought up concerns about the position going over budget.
"I think the Council's concerns are legitimate," Iraci said. "I'm not quite sure what happens after this. I'm sure they'll talk among themselves and make a decision. Whatever it is, I'll be comfortable with what they decide, and I'm sure they'll do the right thing for the city."