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Editorial: The job is what it is

There has been quite the brouhaha over who would run the Buildings and Grounds Department in Hamburg. Precedent says, the highway superintendent. The person newly elected to that position might not have agreed – until recently.

Highway Superintendent Ted Casey has wisely chosen to continue running the department “for the foreseeable future” after first raising a fuss. And he will receive the $2,500 stipend that goes along with the duty.

The Town Board will examine the demands of the job “during this calendar year” and determine whether the stipend should be changed. Casey would vote, yes.

He told The News: “Twenty-five hundred dollars to run a complex other department, no one would say that is fair and equitable.” Buildings and Grounds consists of 55 full-time and part-time employees with more in the summer and one part-time. There are 31 full-time Highway Department workers.

Supervisor James M. Shaw said Casey “has been lobbying him for weeks for an increased stipend.” But the budget had already been set for the year. Shaw suggested the current foreman run the department, instead. It was, perhaps, understandable that the supervisor would look for alternatives, since Casey did not appear motivated to follow the example of his predecessors, even though he said he had no problem with the arrangement.

It’s hard to imagine that there wasn’t a problem given the amount of discussion on running the department.

But that should have been determined prior to campaigning for the position. Casey won a hot contest against incumbent Tom Best Sr. Casey has since discovered there is a lot of work to do, saying he is spending “more time than he anticipated on the Buildings and Grounds department.” He said his first obligation “…is running the Highway Department.”

The two departments were separate in Hamburg until 1997. Then Tom Gilmartin, head of Buildings and Grounds, retired. He made $57,000 annually. James Connolly was the newly appointed highway superintendent. Buildings and Grounds began reporting to him.

Elected officials back then realized the “monetary savings” and “more efficient organizational structure,” which should mean “improved service levels to residents,” as a resolution passed unanimously stated the previous month.
Don’t call it a merger. Call it “reorganization.” And it comes with a stipend of $2,500. The highway position now pays $81,266. Casey does not have to oversee Buildings and Grounds, according to the town attorney. Casey said he did not want to discontinue the duties. He has always been willing to “work out an amicable solution.”

Perhaps he should have figured that out before asking voters for the job.

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