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Meeting set today City & golf pro strike a deal?

Monday, April 07, 2014 - Updated: 10:27 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

After meeting with former golf professional Joseph Merendo Saturday morning, Amsterdam corporation counsel Gerard DeCusatis said the city has worked out a tentative agreement for his services at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

DeCusatis said this morning the Common Council was organizing a special meeting for 5 p.m. today at City Hall to review and vote on the contract.

"It also needs to be reviewed by the pro's attorney, and details need to be worked out," DeCusatis said.

DeCusatis said the tentative agreement includes some general parameters, which he could not yet specify, as the details still need to be ironed out.

When asked if Merendo seemed pleased following the meeting, DeCusatis only said he thinks they "reached a compromise agreement."

The agreement comes on the heels of Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling that the aldermen don't have negotiation powers under the city charter, rendering a previous version of Merendo's contract invalid.

Mayor Ann Thane sued Merendo and the Common Council last month after 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler signed Merendo's contract, after the mayor refused.

The aldermen have noted that Merendo's 30-plus years as a contractor for the city is grounds for retaining his job, but Thane said the previously proposed contract does not support the city taxpayers or golfers. That contract has been carried over since the last time it was signed by Thane.

Following last week's decision, Thane's attorney Paul Goldman said he would call Merendo's attorney to set up an additional compromise -- after several proposals had been turned down.

Goldman said this morning he made that call, but had no hand in the weekend's negotiations.

He had said that whatever the compromise may be, the city feels strongly about getting a cut of Merendo's cart rental revenue.

As of Merendo's last contract, he kept all cart rental fees. He has also reportedly failed to report that revenue to the city, a stipulation in his contract.

The course's golf commission has said that amount could be between $60,000 and $120,000.

Hatzenbuhler said the city and Merendo have "reached an agreement," but they haven't given the council any details.

Golf Commission Chairwoman Michele Russo said she couldn't comment on the agreement, but "hopefully what agreement and resolution came about from this weekend will be what's discussed tonight."

Neither Merendo nor his attorney Douglas Landon immediately returned a request for comment today.

     

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