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Hamburg councilman challenges conduct vote

Hamburg Councilman Joseph Collins on Monday night challenged the other two members of the Town Board to remove restrictions on him that he said hinder him in his duties.

The board majority had previously stripped him of department and liaison assignments until he underwent training in the proper role and conduct of municipal officials.

That training was ordered in December by a 2-1 vote after the majority censured him. The two Republicans, Supervisor Steven Walters and Deputy Supervisor Amy Ziegler, were in favor of the training. Collins, a Democrat, cast the no vote. Collins said he has a letter from the town attorney saying there are no requirements for training for a town councilman, and he wants the training order removed or he will seek a court order seeking its removal.

“I’m going to give you a heads up,” he said. “I want it removed. If not, I’m going to be filing an order to show cause.”

Collins also questioned why the town needs to create two laborer positions, and he voted against creating the positions Monday night. He suggested the hiring of two laborers at the board’s last meeting was politically motivated. He suggested they were members of, connected to or related to the Hamburg town Republican Committee and that there was a problem in their hiring.

“None of them are. Nice try,” Walters said.

“Those are the rumors I’ve heard and I’m trying to get clarification here,” Collins said.

A check of voter registration records shows one is a registered Independence Party member, and one is a Republican.

Walters said Highway Superintendent Tom Best, who is head of the Buildings and Grounds Department, wants more laborers and fewer higher-classification workers, and the only way to do that is to ask Erie County Civil Service to create the two positions.

“The number of employees in the Buildings and Grounds Department is going to remain the same, but we have to have a position created to put someone there,” Walters said.

He said no money was allocated for the new positions, but the town would save money in the future by hiring two more laborers, versus workers in a higher classification who have a higher pay rate.