Council narrowly approves new hire; future budget a concern

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Economic concerns recently served as reasons both for and against the hiring of a new city employee.

Earlier this month the City Council narrowly approved hiring Mary Torok as a program coordinator for the Department of Recreation, Leisure and Culture.

But despite assurances by Todd Drysdale, director of financial and administrative services, that the currently budgeted position for a part-time, at-will employee actually could increase revenue, Councilman James DeSana sought — but did not obtain — a moratorium on new hiring until a budget for the next fiscal year approved can be approved. The new fiscal year starts in October.

DeSana and council members Sheri M. Sutherby-Fricke and Daniel Galeski voted against the hiring resolution Dec. 7, while Leonard Sabuda, Lawrence Stec and Todd Browning voted in favor. Mayor Joseph Peterson cast the deciding vote to hire Torok.

A Dec. 3 letter to the council from Drysdale, Recreation Supt. Fred Pischke and Director of Museums and Cultural Affairs Jody Chansuolme reiterated members’ resolution Sept. 28 to authorize Drysdale to solicit applications for the program coordinator position. The letter further explained that candidates were interviewed during October and November.

The three officials recommended Torok, formerly of Electronic Data Systems Corp. As a regular part-time employee, she will not receive any benefits other than those required by statute. She will receive an hourly pay rate of $17.89 and will be subject to a 12-month probationary period as required under the city’s nonunion personnel policy handbook.

DeSana expressed concern over hiring a person when the city is in the red, saying the next budget is 10 months out and the current budget has a $350,000 shortfall. Peterson countered that the issue before the council was whether or not to approve the hiring, not to decide whether the current budget shortfall should impact such decisions.

Drysdale reminded the council that they directed him to solicit applicants and interview for the position. He also said the deficit now is down to $130,000 because an ordinance officer position is vacant, a Down River Area Narcotics Organization officer has not been replaced and a Department of Public Services worker has resigned.

Peterson concurred with the council’s presiding sentiment that the city would have to “do more with less.” He also noted that more ordinance officer hours could be deployed at less cost by hiring part-time employees instead of full-time.

DeSana reiterated that employees should not be hired until the next budget is resolved.