Dissention is clearly brewing in the Village of Stewart Manor as Mayor Gerard S. Tangredi publicly clashed with his trustees at their July 5 board meeting over his decision to appoint a new employee to an administrative position that has been essentially vacant for the past two months.
Tangredi, citing his right as mayor under state law, appointed a new deputy village clerk-treasurer to fill a post vacated two months prior; the job has been partially filled for the past two months by a part-time employee and Tangredi’s decree promoted that employee to a full-time position for a term of one year, which includes benefits.
“As per New York State Law, it is the mayor’s responsibility to fill this position, and it’s to be filled without the board voting on the issue,” he said.
“The village clerk’s office is in desperate need, and it’s my responsibility to ensure that the office runs and that this village operates properly…the position has been open since April and it needs to be filled. So, this appointment is effective immediately, as of the morning of tomorrow, July 6.”
However, Tangredi’s move apparently blindsided his trustees, who had met the Thursday before—a meeting that the Mayor had stated at a previous board meeting that he would be unable to attend—to discuss alternate options to fill the deputy village clerk-treasurer, according to Deputy Mayor Michael Onorato, who expressed shock over the sudden deputy clerk-treasurer appointment.
“We’ve just been told this tonight after having a Thursday night work session meeting that that mayor didn’t attend…the board worked very hard that night to make a determination on a course of action that could save the village some money, perhaps a shift with two part-time employees instead of one full-timer,” he said. “Hiring a full-time employee is very costly to the village in terms of benefits, which we pay for anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 above their salary. However, unbeknownst to us, the mayor reverted back to an appointment he made at the beginning of the village year…he felt that he had legal jurisdiction to do this, and I feel he does not. This is dictatorial.”
Trustee William Grogan then launched into a tirade against Tangredi before the local residents attending the meeting, making it quite clear that there was a vast rift between the mayor of Stewart Manor and his board of trustees.
“This is the first time we’re hearing of this…this is the worst way to govern, guys…this lacks transparency. We’re being blindsided with this and that’s the style of the mayor, not to collaborate or communicate,” he said. “At our work session meeting last Thursday, we looked into trying to save residents money by reducing the position to part-time without benefits, but the mayor doesn’t even want to bother with an exchange of ideas…all he wants to do is blindside us tonight with some undocumented claim, nothing in advance. I agree with the deputy mayor…I’m not in favor of this being decided tonight.”
Onorato made several attempts to table the mayor’s appointment, but those attempts were dismissed by Tangredi, who argued that the decision regarding the new deputy village clerk-treasurer was his alone to make. Onorato noted that the trustees are not against the idea of a full-time hire for the position; they just wanted the time to weigh other options first, he said.
There were several pressing issues that prompted his sudden appointment of a deputy village clerk-treasurer, Tangredi noted, and paramount among them the fact that Village Clerk-Treasurer Rosemarie Biehayn has been severely overworked the past two months without a full-time assistant; filling that void in her office as soon as possible, he said, was of paramount importance.
“I’ve spoken to Rosemarie many times, and she needs a full-time person in that office…she cannot take a day off because there’s nobody there, and you can’t just get someone off the street to come in and run things. You need someone there full-time to learn, understand, and make sure the office operates as it should, and that can’t happen with a part-time employee or two,” he said. “Plus, you need continuity and security…we don’t want too many people having access to the village’s finances and records. And as for benefits, why in this day and age would you want to deprive someone of health care benefits? We need good people in village hall, and they should be paid and treated professionally.”
A full-time position for the deputy village clerk-treasurer is already covered in Stewart Manor’s 2016-17 budget; the appointment of a new person into that position will not change the current parameters of the village’s spending plan.
This is not the first time the Stewart Manor Trustees has argued with Tangredi in public; at their May 2016 board meeting, a similar conflict reared its head before local residents, and based on the outcome of the July meeting, the two groups are no closer to seeing eye-to-eye.
Finally, after additional back and forth squabbling–much to the distress of local residents in the audience, which included, ironically enough, a Boy Scout troop attending to satisfy a requirement of their Communications merit badges—the meeting was abruptly ended and went directly into Executive Session, leaving the finality of the new deputy village clerk-treasurer in limbo for the time being.