GENEVA — With three retirements in leadership posts pending in the city’s Department of Public Works, a councilor thinks it’s time for an overhaul.
At-large Councilor Frank Gaglianese, a Republican, said now there is an opportunity to consolidate leadership.
At last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Gaglianese — who works in the construction business — said that with the upcoming retirements of DPW Director Mark Perry, Junior Engineer Paul Cosentino and Highway and Sewer Supervisor Charlie Blowers, it’s time for the multi-faceted department to be overseen by a single leader.
“I’m all about saving money,” said Gaglianese. “I feel we have a great opportunity.”
Gaglianese said the city cannot accept the “status quo” any longer.
“The time to do something different is now,” he said.
He said the DPW needs “less upper management and more labor force. … We always think that we need to fill positions that are open, but do we really?”
The councilor added “these people make some of the highest salaries in Geneva.”
Gaglianese said the DPW is already stretched thin, and with Downtown Revitalization Initiative public works projects expected to create further strain, there’s a need for more laborers, not managers.
“They are going to need more help,” he said. “There are too many bosses and not enough workers.”
Fourth Ward Councilor Ken Camera, a proponent of consolidating and streamlining services — from fire protection to recreation — liked Gaglianese’s idea.
“I’m totally with you,” he told Gaglianese.
Mayor Steve Valentino didn’t dismiss Gaglianese’s suggestions, but denied the city is interested in maintaining the status quo.
“We need to look at the data [before making decisions],” he said.
Reached Thursday, Gaglianese said he and other councilors are interested in doing things differently when it can save money and improve city services.
“Things are going to have to change,” he said. “We can’t nibble around the edges. We need big ideas.”
He said his goal, and that of others on Council, is to “expose some things, rattle some cages.”
Perry was unavailable for comment last week on what he thought of Gaglianese’s proposals. He is retiring in May after 30 years with the city and his job is already being advertised.
On Thursday, Valentino said Gaglianese was wrong to think the city administration and previous councils didn’t examine labor cost reductions when feasible.
“I am fully supportive of efficiency gains,” he said by email. “Look at our track record over the last 10 years-plus. We have not followed a pattern of ‘position open, position filled.’ With Matt Horn’s initiatives, staff and Council have advanced various levels of efficiencies while maintaining or improving services. We continually work with surrounding municipalities for combined services. I am not sure what fact set Councilor Gaglianese is working from, but there is historical data that indicates these gains while maintaining the tax rate. The city of Geneva has made major improvements that are continually complimented by returning community members and visitors. I look forward to hearing more about Councilor Gaglianese’s ideas on efficiency gains.”
That conversation could happen at the council’s next retreat, set for Feb. 15.