Niagara Gazette — "This has been an ongoing rightsizing of town government," Richards said. "This is an ongoing process that we've been doing over the last few years."
Richards said a municipality the size of the Town of Niagara did not need three inspectors, saying just one new home requiring inspection was built within town limits this year. By comparison, Richards said, the two inspectors in the Town of Wheatfield oversee construction of 64 new homes.
Richards said the duties performed by both inspectors will be handled next year by an independent inspector, likely from a private engineering firm, that would be hired with funds from the "engineering cost recovery fee," a charge the town can pass along to private companies constructing commercial buildings.
"The commercial business will pay for that and we'll select the inspector," Richards said.
As for extending a leave of absence for Stahlman, Richards said he advocated for the move on the advice of Town Attorney Michael Risman, suggesting the town wanted to avoid a situation where a lame-duck employee would have access to vital town resources such as computerized equipment.
"That was done on the advice of the town attorney which I fully support," Richards said.
Risman said the town could have abolished Stahlman's position effective last week, but wanted to give him a chance to "land on his feet" by allowing him to continue to collect his salary and benefits through year's end. Risman said Stahlman was placed on administrative leave to avoid a situation where an employee who no longer had a long-term position was working at town hall or on the town's behalf. Risman stressed that the leave was not related to any disciplinary or legal matters.
"There was no formal discipline of any sort," Risman said.
Sklarski could not be reached for comment on Monday.