Tensions arose at a Greenport Village Board work session Monday when Trustee Mary Bess Phillips challenged a request to hire an engineering aide.
Utilities director Jack Naylor said the aide is much needed in an effort to cut down on his overflowing demand.
Mr. Naylor said 90 percent of the aide’s responsibilities would be to handle paperwork, with only 10 percent devoted to technical responsibilities. That would free Mr. Naylor to do hands-on engineering work, he said.
But Ms. Phillips questioned whether spending money on a new position was appropriate.
“Are you planning on decreasing your hours and salary?” she asked the utilities director.
He shot back: “I’m working 75 hours a week.”
Two years ago, Mr. Naylor was authorized to hire an administrative aide to handle paperwork, but the woman hired left the area right after the job offer was made. The position went unfilled.
Since then, Mr. Naylor said he has had trouble finding a candidate willing to work for the relatively low salary.
Ms. Phillips also offered concern that a board resolution was needed immediately for the hiring or there would be another delay awaiting a new civil service listing of qualified candidates.
Ultimately, she voted with the rest of the board to allow the appointment at a salary of $33,200.
Sparring between the two continued over reports due within a year after completion of the waste water treatment plant project that is now expected to be finished by the end of November. For awhile, it appeared the project would slip into the first quarter of 2012, but contractors have been able to catch up, according to Mayor David Nyce.
Ms. Phillips wanted assurances that steps would start now to prepare the necessary reports, instead of waiting until the last minute.
Both she and the mayor also elicited an agreement from Mr. Naylor that he would work to assure that in addition to the training provided by equipment manufacturers to operate the revamped plant, there would be in-house training of staff.
There will be “a steep learning curve” for the staff and the village needs to be “ahead of this as much as we can,” Mr. Nyce said, asking that documentation on operation of the equipment begin immediately.
SEWER RATES GOING UP?
Mr. Naylor proposed a 5 percent hike in sewer rates this year to cover funding needs that include debt payments when the waste water treatment plant work is done and expenses to upgrade pump stations and sewer system improvements.
He also recommended a 4 percent hike in 2014 and another 3.5 percent in 2016.
Village customers who are metered would see their rates go from $33.37 per month to $35.04 this year, while unmetered customers would see their rates rise from $50.19 per month to $52.70.
Customers outside the village who are metered would see their rates go up from $50.08 to $52.58, while those who aren’t metered would see a hike from $60.67 to 63.70.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for July.