Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 25, 2013

Council trims $150K from Dyster's budget plan


• Eliminated a line for the director of business development position which has been vacant since Fran Iusi retired in January 2012.

The council defeated amendments that would have:

• Reduced the line for the now-vacant city engineer's position from $96,000 to $78,000. Dyster has said he feels it would be difficult to attract qualified candidates at the reduced level.

• Eliminated a $35,000 consulting line that Dyster would use to hire a grant administrator to seek out new grants and handle reporting responsibilities the city has already accepted.

Dyster now has until Dec. 1 to submit any vetoes he wishes to put forth on the adopted amendments. The council must then vote on the vetoes, which require four votes to overturn, and adopt the finalized budget by Dec. 15.

Dyster bristled at a few of the amendments, in particular the cut to Owens' salary.

Dyster has maintained that Owens, who left a job with the city of Atlanta to take her city administrator position in the Falls, negotiated that salary before moving to the Cataract City and deserves to be paid the salary at which she was hired.

In addition, even at the $110,000 figure, Owens was never the highest paid city employee, he added.

"I think you've got to pay the city administrator a competitive salary," Dyster said. "I look sideways at the board of education where you have numerous administrators who make six-figure salaries."

Dyster argued that Owens' job is as difficult as an administrative position at one of the city schools.

"I know this is a very difficult job, for example, to run an elementary school," Dyster said. "But that doesn't mean you should make more than someone who runs a whole city."

Dyster said that he was happy with some of the defeated amendments, in particular the amendment that would have the shot down his attempt to restore the city engineer's salary.

"It was a mixed bag," he said. "There were some positives."

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