By CASEY CROUCHER
The Amsterdam Common Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of keeping the corporation counsel's assistant in the 2014-15 budget Monday evening.
After Mayor Ann Thane issued nine line-item vetoes to the council's 2014-15 adopted budget June 12, the council decided to override eight of those nine vetoes last week.
The council held a special meeting Monday to discuss the ninth veto, which was the elimination of the city attorney's assistant.
After a lengthy executive session, council members voted to keep the assistant position for another year at its original salary of $31,211; however, they added more responsibilities to the job.
"The corporation counsel's assistant will remain in the budget, and will now assist with the Employee Relations Department as well," Thane said.
The council modified the 2014-15 operating budget, increasing the revenue estimate for the town of Florida's revenue sharing by $7,803.
"We modified the budget to offset the cost of the position," Thane said. "We did it to balance everything out, so there's no change in the tax rate."
The only council member who didn't agree to the resolution was 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler.
"I'm sorry. It's a very complicated issue and I disagree with it and that's all I'm going to say," Hatzenbuhler said after the meeting.
When asked why she disagreed with the resolution, she took a long moment to think.
"I just disagree, and I'll leave it at that," she said. "I would very much like to get along with the mayor, but we see things totally different, and that's about the most I can say."
Third Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr. said he doesn't want the public getting the wrong impression about why the council made its decision.
"Don't think we're getting soft," Barone said. "We're putting more teeth into [this position] ... I just don't want people to think I'm getting soft ... this plan will benefit the city, hopefully."
Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis was happy to have his assistant back.
"I think this is a good thing. I mean, there will be some changes in operation, and we'll have to make some adjustments, but I think we can make it work," DeCusatis said. "I need the support, there will be some challenges with the position now being structured this way, but I think using some modern technology, we can deal with it."
DeCusatis doesn't think the change will be too difficult for his department.
"It's not necessarily going to be that hard," he said. "I work hand-in-hand with the Employee Relations Department, and many of the things we deal with are employee-related matters, so it's a natural fit, and both require a confidential secretary. I think it can work; we'd certainly like to have more staff, but we'll make do with what we have."
Daniel Roginski, who currently serves as DeCusatis' assistant, also said he's happy.
"I'm relieved, and I can hopefully now help with some of the employee relations back-haul," Roginski said. "This will definitely be different. Before, I was working directly under the corporation counsel. Now, I can try to take on more duties and hopefully the city will get some benefit from it."
Roginski said he doesn't think the transition will be too difficult for him.
"I am very helpful, I have a four-year degree, I'm relatively young, and I don't think this change is going to be anything that's beyond my capabilities. It's just going to be a little change in tempo," he said.