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Controller's post remains vacant

Friday, January 25, 2013 - Updated: 5:31 PM


Recorder News Staff

The Amsterdam city controller position remains vacant.

At a special meeting of the city of Amsterdam Common Council Thursday night, council members held in their hands a resolution to appoint a controller.

The name within that resolution was left blank.

It was up to the council to place a name in and decide.

But at around 7 p.m., when the meeting was adjourned, no name had been entered and no vote had been taken.

This leaves the council just one week to fill the controller position if they are to stay within the guidelines of the city charter.

After the meeting, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane expressed concern over the lack of action.

"We have a charter. I don't understand picking and choosing from the charter. I don't. I don't understand, especially if you're going to be throwing rules of order around. Those are fine not to follow. The charter not so much, the charter which is our law for governance of the city of Amsterdam," she said. "This is not OK and I feel very sad for the city of Amsterdam because we are going on and on and on and wasting precious time."

During the special meeting, as the controller resolution came up, 3rd Ward Alderwoman Gina DeRossi questioned what came of the ad placed last week that called for applicants for the position.

There were none as of Tuesday, the mayor said, and though someone came to her with interest the next day, they ended up being interested in the deputy controller position.

"With that we have one candidate still that has expressed interest in this," she said.

The three council members who voted against the resolution to appoint Manfred Phemister a few weeks back had the opportunity throw his name back onto the table.

But that opportunity came to a halt when a resounding "You can't put him in," came from 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas.

Other council members, and even Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis, posed why.

Dybas told the council that their rules prohibit it.

"We would in essence be creating the same resolution," he told them.

Though DeCusatis explained that the council could put up the name once again, no one jumped at the chance.

"I don't want to break all the rules," said 2nd Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman.

Thane became visibly upset.

"If you are not intent on going forward with this resolution, I want to know what the plan is for managing the department of finance," she said.

She listed a myriad of duties that need to be tended to and questioned current deputy controller Joy Chiarello if she felt comfortable doing all of those duties with her staff.

"To put it plainly, we do not have a person to do those duties that are listed under the controller's position," Chiarello said. "We do not have someone in that spot that would handle all of the things that you suggested."

Thane continued after to call the council's decision to not place someone in the position "irresponsible and unconscionable."

As discussion continued, the council touched more and more on the deputy controller position.

Before the controller's resolution being brought to the table, the council passed a resolution putting money in place for the deputy controller position.

Interviews for that position start today.

While there was talk about spending the unused controller salary money on consulting and simply bringing in a deputy controller position for now, Thane wouldn't go for it.

She told the council that controller spot is a necessary managerial position.

"You have to have somebody steering the ship," she told them.

In the end, no name was brought forward and the meeting was adjourned with no controller named.

Post-meeting, DeRossi, who voted yes to Phemister originally, said she was slightly disappointed with the meeting results.

"I think it can only help to have someone else in that department that we will have someone in the deputy controller position that has those qualifications but they're not going to have unlimited man hours either so it can only help to have someone else there," DeRossi said.

Knowing that there is someone willing to come in and take on the position until November, she said it's a shame to not let them come in and help.


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