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Lockport fire chief job, with pay cut, is Brady’s if he wants it

LOCKPORT – Patrick K. Brady has been given a week to decide if he wants to take a pay cut, at least temporarily, to be the next Lockport fire chief.

“I’m exploring my options,” Brady, the acting chief, said after the Fire Board voted, 5-0, to offer him the post at a salary of $53,500 a year.

The board had decided on Brady after interviewing five candidates Feb. 12. The choice was made official Thursday. Brady was handed a letter giving him until 5 p.m. March 12 to accept or reject the position.

Brady had previously told The News that he didn’t want the job at the salary offered.

“That’s probably still my position,” said Brady, who added that the Common Council could change its mind on the pay. “I believe the Council and the mayor have a number.”

“We’re willing to discuss it,” Council President Joseph C. Kibler said in a telephone interview.

Better not go there, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano warned.

“I think it’s a violation of the Civil Service Law, not offering the same to the others,” the city’s attorney said.

The five men who interviewed for the post all were told the Council had set the pay at $53,500, a steep cut from the nearly $89,000 a year former Chief Thomas J. Passuite was earning. They went ahead with the interviews. One of the six who took the civil service test for the position, Assistant Chief Patrick F. Costello, did not show up for an interview.

The Council cut the pay to save money in the city’s fiscal crisis, and for a time last fall toyed with the idea of making the chief’s job part time.

Brady, who was a captain before being named acting chief 11 weeks ago, said his base pay is $67,230, plus $100 a week to be acting chief.

Kibler said, “I think he deserves more than what we offered him, with the job he’s been doing.”

But Ottaviano said he would recommend to the Council, which has a work session scheduled for Wednesday, that it not touch the salary at least until after the 12-week probationary period for a new hire is completed.

Brady said some of the other candidates, who are assistant chiefs, would have to take a $20,000 pay cut to be chief at the salary currently being offered.

The Fire Board also voted to ask the city to apply to the state for a 30-day extension of the validity of the hiring list, which would expire 30 days after the interviews. Otherwise, if Brady does not take the job, the whole process might have to start over with a new exam, Ottaviano said.

In 2013, the city Civil Service Commission granted the Fire Board’s request to change eligibility rules for the position by adding Municipal Training Officer Luca C.P. Quagliano’s job to those eligible for promotion to chief.

The firefighters’ union sued the city to try to block the change, and it is appealing the case.

Quagliano came in fifth on the exam. Only the top three finishers – Brady, Capt. Thomas E. Lupo and Assistant Chief Michael B. Seeloff – can be considered for now.