City Council Chairman Charles Walker tried unsuccessfully Thursday to revive a $46,332 risk management job in City Hall that he said has saved Niagara Falls money and has helped reduce compensation claims in the city.

The council voted, 3 to 1, with one member absent Tuesday to eliminate a non-union appointment filled by Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble.

Walker pulled a proposal to reconsider that decision Thursday after failing to win support for the measure from the rest of the City Council.

He said the risk manager works as a liaison between the city and a private consulting firm that administrates the city’s workers’ compensation claims.

“You need a watchdog, especially when you talk about compensation claims,” Walker said. “It doesn’t matter who is in the job. It pays for itself.”

The city’s third-party administrator, Public Employer Risk Management Association, estimated in September that workers’ compensation would cost the city about 14 percent less than the $3 million officials had budgeted for 2005.

Mayor Vince Anello has attributed the drop to the work of the risk management department and PERMA, which has been working with the city for more than a year.

Councilman Glenn Choolokian, who pushed through dozens of cuts on Tuesday with Councilmen Robert Anderson Jr. and Lewis “Babe” Rotella,” said he believes the city’s fiscal position has forced it to do more with less.

He believes the workers’ compensation savings has come from several factors, including the city’s workers and its third-party administrator.

Rotella said the decision to cut the position was one of the toughest he had to make.

“She did a fine job,” Rotella said of Kimble. “She was always helpful. I can’t stress that enough, but we have to make these decisions.”

Walker said the city saw workers’ compensation costs rise after it eliminated its risk manager several years ago.

Niagara Falls pulled out of a county-run program in August 2001.

Walker’s attempt to revive the risk management position on Thursday as he proposed more than a dozen other budget changes. The council approved $28,500 additional budget cuts Thursday and added $10,000 to hire consultants for the City Council.

Choolokian said the council wants to be able to hire outside attorneys or consultants to have access to independent advice. Currently, the council receives legal advice from the city’s attorneys, who also advise the administration.

Walker also asked the council to reconsider cutting $100,000 from the Fire Department’s overtime costs, but could not get enough votes for the measure.

On Tuesday, the council made nearly $700,000 worth of cuts, including the salaries and benefits of several of the mayor’s appointments, as well as overtime, temporary workers and cell phone charges.

The council has until Dec. 1 to finalize its budget changes and submit it to the mayor. Anello can them veto any of the line-item changes.

The five-member council needs four votes to override his veto.

It was unclear Thursday whether the council will have the votes to overturn the mayor’s opposition to resolutions that passed with only three votes.

Councilwoman Candra Thomason, who has previously opposed funding several of the jobs eliminated, did not attend the budget meetings Tuesday or Thursday. Walker said she left a message at the council’s office saying she was sick.

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